Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

A mother died, a horse was born

Mother memory doll, with a quilt share she made as a child with her mother
Six years ago, my mother died suddenly. It was a beautiful day in Oregon, where we lived at the time, and I had planned to go for a long ride with Boone. It also happened to be his birthday. I remember going to feed him and thinking that now his birthday will always be tinged with my mother's death.

But being the optimist, and student of Nature that I am, I realized that was not how I wanted to look at it. It was almost like it was a message from my mother,

"I'm gone, I know you are sad, but you have that horse that took you so long to get, go ride him, child."

That was a surreal day. It was a very hard loss. I was close to my mother, sometimes too close, but she was truly my advocate. I was really ticked off she died. She was eighty seven, and lived independently, still playing golf and driving her little ancient VW convertible with her golf hat adorned by her sunflower. It's how I often think of her. She was having trouble breathing, so my brother who lived near by took her to the hospital. She called me on the way there, and left a message. Her voice was a bit shaky. She had always told me that old people don't like going to the hospital because they know they often don't come out. That night she had a mild heart attack. We were told her lungs were calcifying. I talked to her the next day, and said all the things I don't say when my animals are dying. I told her not to die, I told her I wasn't ready to lose her. I cried. She said she wasn't ready to go. I told her we loved her, and that I was driving down to California in two days. She knew how impossible getting off the farm was for me.

"Really? You're coming down?" she asked.

I told her Martyn would stay and I would come to help. Now, my mother knows I hate hospitals, I can get physically and emotionally stunted when I enter one. It has always been like that. She also hates having visitors at hospitals. I mean she would welcome seeing me, but...the next day, she died.

A friend who knew us since childhood said that my mother made it easy on me. I guess she was right. A nurse went to give her a sip of water, and then asked my mother [whose last name was Dunn]if she was done, and my mother said, in true form,

"I'm done, Dunn, and DONE!" and she died with a smile on her face.

But there out in the barn was my living, breathing horse, Boone. And he turns twenty-one today. We've been together eleven years. I tell this story because I almost forgot the date today, and looked at my calendar and realized it was April 4th, the day that holds so much history for me. I tell it because for all of you who are missing people, and you see a day on a calendar every month, and the grief sticks you hard and you think,

"Another month without them,"

I'm here to tell you that time will soften the date. You get to do it at your pace. But keep taking steps in the living. One day, you will realize the date has less power over you, because that person filled you with so much love that you are out sharing it with other creatures be it human or animal.