Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My anonymous benefactor

Perhaps you've dreamed of a lost Uncle Louie. He was last heard from via a package from a deserted Pacific Island. The box reads "Dear Niece, Weather is lovely. Shame about the crocodiles. Please take care of Phil for me. Arrrgg...." You open the package. Out leaps Phil the Monkey, banana in one hand and a sack in the other. "Aww, Hi Phil!" you say. With a giggle of glee, Phil leaps over your head and straight to the top of the china cabinet. You stretch your arms toward him. Phil laughs and jumps onto your head. He drops the banana peel. In your rush you accidentally slide on it. You topple over - into the china! You close your eyes and brace for impact. You, Phil, the banana, the china, and the sack explode in all directions. After a huge crash, you feel safe enough to open them. Phil is smiling and checking your hair for lice. You look around. All about you is the wreckage of Great Grandma Grace's wedding china and stars in your eyes. Those aren't stars. Phil's sack was full of golden pirate doubloons!

"Thanks, Uncle Louie!"

I don't have an Uncle Louie. But I did have an anonymous benefactor. I grew up in a wealthy area of Connecticut. As a child, it felt like every one had horses except me. Or so I told my parents daily. My father was a local pastor and my mother a homemaker. As such, they didn't have the income to support a daughter's horse habit. My horse adventures were limited to voracious reading and occasional pony rides.

I recall suffered in sullen indignity through one friend's birthday party. After opening a plethora of colorful boxes, and stuffing in cupcakes, her parents invited us into the backyard for "One more little gift." A pony stood by the swing set with a bow on his head.
"Oh, another pony?" the birthday girl yawned. Grr! At the tender age of 5 or so, I found my self contemplating becoming a felon.

My best friend and next door neighbor shared my longing for all things equestrian. We gave our bicycles horsey names like "Lightening" and "Swift Wind" and collected Breyer horse models. Finally one summer, my best friend started taking riding lessons at a local hunter barn. I was indescribably jealous. We had shared everything as best friends. And now she was living our big horsey dreams alone.

Around the same time, I was also suffering from chronic ear infections. I went to the hospital for a short surgery. My parents bought me a pet gerbil for being a good girl. A gerbil was fun, but no horse. I also got lots of get well mail from the relatives. But one curious envelope appeared without a return address. My parents opened it first and I think had a long discussion about its contents before telling me. It contained a hand written "gift certificate" which entitled me to a few lessons at the hunter barn. My parents agreed I could go. Hurray! But I think they secretly hoped I would "get it out of my system" and decide horses weren't for me.

Well, so much for that idea.

My stubborn streak won out. I kept riding. And soon I was "helping out", as much as a kid can, in exchange for riding time. But best of all, I was sharing the dream with my best friend. We both still ride today.

Now as an adult, I suspect I know who my anonymous benefactor was. But since they never told me, I've never asked. But I'll always be grateful.


Golden the Pony Girl said...

Wow I love it! Mine was not anonymous but I also received my first riding lessons as a hand written gift certificate. My parents were also really hoping I would grow out of it. Whoops.

Dunappy said...

My mom had to hear me ask for a horse every single day for over 7 years. Mom can father time bring me a horse for new years? Mom can George Washington bring me a horse for presidents day? Mom can the easter bunny, Cupid, etc for all the holidays. My benefactor was neither anonymous nor so frugal as to just pay for lessons. I ended up with a real live horse finally.

A Bay Horse said...

Glad my parents weren't the only ones hoping we'd grow out of it!

Lol Dunappy. That's hysterical. I STILL ask my husband for another horse for any occasion. "Can I have a horse for our anniversary?" etc etc

Grey Horse Matters said...

I never had a benefactor, we didn't have much as kids. But luckily I got to start riding as an adult. Great story.

Michelle said...

It's so cool that you had a secret benefactor to get you in the barn! Only thing, it's too bad you could never properly thank them for changing your life...

Jen said...

I'm late leaving this comment, but what a marvelous post! I started asking for a horse at the age of 4; I did get the lessons, but had to wait another 34 years for the real thing :o) I still have all my horse books and Breyers, have been blessed with 10 of the real thing and am even more horse crazy than I was as a kid. My husband is still trying to figure out exactly what happened (we started with two...and then there were ten *grin*). Glad you finally got yours too, thanks for sharing!