How to Bury a Horse
Usually it’s at a local watering hole, where the middle-aged men sitting around the bar look surreptitiously at the hands of these ladies sitting in their booth as they gesture wildly through the air to accentuate their stories. The men are searching for wedding bands or little come-on smiles of encouragement. The rings are there; the smiles aren’t for them. The gals gossip and giggle and guffaw, lost in their own stories and commentaries over the space of two hours and two beers.
Once a year, when one of the husbands goes hunting or fishing for the week, they eschew the pub and time constraints and have a real, old-fashioned girls’ sleepover. They have a few too many exotic libations and stay up until close to the crack of dawn. They hoot, holler, howl at the ridiculous stories each other tells about life, love, largess.
I’m one of those gals.
We used to teach together years ago. We had children about the same time. Our children played together at the same home daycare or went to dance class together. Our children took piano lessons together or went to the same prom (not together). We’ve been married, separated, divorced, and widowed together. We’ve traveled together.
This past week was our week to get together at four-thirty on the dot. None of us like walking into a bar and having to sit alone for even a moment, so we usually text each other if we are going to be late, even five minutes. This month’s excitement was to be a recent visit to Hawaii with pictures and commentary.
When I walked into the bar, T.W. was sitting demurely in the reception area, “TB’s going to be late, and you won’t believe why! She’s got to finish burying a horse. Should we wait until she gets here to order?”
This was going to be too good to listen to without a beer, so we bellied up to the bar and ordered. We hemmed and hawed the time away, talking about our woodworking class that we were both taking, until finally, TB walked through the door, looking none the worse for wear.
“Whew! Sorry, gals, but the guys just left with the backhoe. I’m gonna need a beer to tell this story!” she breezily said as she tossed back her beautifully coiffed hair.
When the barmaid brought her tall Coors Light, she began her litany. You need to know a bit about TB. She was raised as a city gal. Moved out into the “almost” country on a major thoroughfare eight minutes from town and lived there for years. Only recently have she and her husband taken the plunge to move to the “real’ country — farming, ranching, and living in the wilderness a full 45 minutes from town. She deals with rattlesnakes on her front porch, coyotes in her backyard, feral kittens in her barn, irrigation systems in her side yard. And today, an old horse that needed to be put down and buried. Her husband was on an out-of-town trip, so the responsibility of the horse was up to her. She had called their vet when it appeared the 37-year old horse was in need of help. He wasn’t in town, either. She arranged for another vet to meet her and administer last rites in the form of a huge syringe. Then another dilemma – burying the carcass. She called on her husband’s employees. They came out with a backhoe and completed the interment.
I never asked her how she and her farm helpers had buried the horse – sideways or standing up. I just know that as I was listening to her, all I kept thinking of was an old Calvary story that I’d heard years ago about a dead mule that needed burying. The soldiers dug and dug and dug in the heat, trying to make the hole deep enough for the mule. Soon, a lieutenant came by and asked the worn-our, exhausted soldiers why the hole was so deep? As he listened to their answer, he began to laugh. “Stop digging now!” he commanded. “Cut off the mule’s legs and lay them down next to the body. You won’t have to dig any deeper.”
The Calvary Lieutenant looked at a problem in a unique way. My out-of-town friend is looking at life in a unique way.
We need to embrace uniqueness! How would YOU have buried the horse???