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  • Christie Bonham

Memory Lane

A few weeks back we had some special guests at Milagros barn. The owner of our place had arranged for a group of residents from a local memory care facility to come for a demonstration. It would be a fun afternoon sharing our horse friends with them and I was excited to participate.

They arrived in a van with the logo of their home, The Abbington, printed on the side of the vehicle. Our barn owner had taken the time to arrange bales of hay next to our outdoor arena for them to be seated. The hay was covered with soft blankets for their comfort and warmth.

Some of the younger riders showed off their skills by riding around the arena and clearing jumps. One of our trainers spoke to the crowd and explained some of the basics and answered questions. The group seemed genuinely engaged in the demonstration and were eager to talk.

In between riders Milagro and I were invited out to tell our story to the crowd. I was nervous at first, but seeing them all huddled together as we walked closer to them brought me a sense of belonging.

Our barn owner introduced me and Milagro, and told them about the book I had written and recently published. I had a copy with me that I had dedicated to the people of The Abbington. One woman in particular was very excited about this and took the book and held it tight.

As I spoke to the small crowd my heart swelled as I could see some of my Mom in their sweet faces. The memories that flooded back for them about their interactions with horses were so fun to listen too. The clarity and excitement they exuded brought a smile to my face.

And just as their memories became ever so clear to them, as did mine. I remembered my mom and the times we shared when she too was in a state of CRS. My Mom always referred to her memory problems as having a case of "Can't Remember Shit". Of course as time moved on that cleaver way of protecting herself from the hard realities of Alzheimer's diminished. But these friendly and eager folks were at the starting gate so to speak. They were still able to harness those openings in their memories, and to be a part of that was very special to me.

My Mom never got a chance to meet Milagro. But in some universal way on that day a few weeks back, I felt as though I had made up for it by giving that introduction to these strangers. I don't know if their families would have any idea about the days outing, but by us sharing our horses and our beautiful barn with them, we became their family that day. And in the most magical of ways, they became mine.

My Mom, far right, with Aunt Dottie and her horse George
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