As I trotted down centerline to halt at X, I exhaled a sigh of relief for at that moment, I was satisfied where I was and what I was doing in my life. I tipped my head and saluted-a deluge of rain poured into my lap from the spout of my helmet and I exited Solar on a long rein looking for my Thumb's Up validation, a sign from my daughter that met her approval with a beautiful smile. She always is close to me...and 30 feet from ringside is living proof of that. I could bet she learned that habit from her ole' lady!!!
WE WERE BACK!
As hurricane Hanna thrusted her might upon the East coast with a copious rainfall, we remaining riders equally rebounded back on our feet right back at her! EVENTING. The life blood of this sport. Those of us that remained had an unmeasurable amount of grit and determination to finish what we all started. It is so very obvious why Laine loves this sport......it is indeed a reflection of her own fortitude and stamina for Life. Men from the boys. This was certainly a horse trial without exception. By the time I rode following Laine.....it was a steady downpour that remained in that dismal state till just after dark. Only the 'die-hards' remained and the Seneca field of play was near empty in what would be the busiest time of the day for the organizers and judges. I rode my test almost 3 hours early because of the no shows and riders electing to call it quits. I walked back to the trailer looking at Laine saying to myself, "another fine mess kid"!!! I knew there was no way in Hell we would be loading our soaked ponies up and heading 95-South to the sheltering gate of Crow's Ear Farm! Not a chance. My daughter's conviction is the Rock of Gibraltar. It has given me strength to be a nurturing Mother when the most difficult of times came to cripple my life and hers on April 26th. I depend on Laine. As do the monkeys who thrive from that great rock they claimed home to. The two work together just as we both do. I am so incredibly fortunate to have the strongest influence remain in my life. I will forever be gracious to God for not robbing me of that bond.
We were greeted by so many fellow riders...."welcome back Lainey"!!! From our dear CA friend Stephanie Boyer to Boyd, Sharon, Tara, Matt, Jackie, Madness, and all our close comrades......both Laine and I found solstice in each person coming up in the terrible weather and making a point of Laine's first event back and congratulating her return . I Love all of You who gave a little bit of your time to make my daughter's struggle not go unnoticed and support her passion of this sport. There has been so much controversy and negativity associated with Rolex and pressure put on Laine's youthful shoulders. It is refreshing to know that our friends remain......Our Friends. I was tenderly reminded by Kathleen Flynn who read our daily hospital blogs that it was Time & Sunshine that mends most Everything. When she asked how Laine was really doing.....I responded but had a 'quiet' moment where emotions forbid me to speak further. She lovingly looked at me and said those very same words I advised readers. Now they were for me. And she was right. I walked away with a smile from ear to ear....and a tear or two that intersected that grin. I felt lighter in my steps as I made my way to the rig and homeward bound with my precious daughter beside me. Our horses were happy. We were happy. And Laine was in the omnibus looking for the next event! She felt so rewarded to be back in the loop from too long a hiatus.
I want to thank first and foremost, my Father and Mother for their loving and unconditional support through ALL of this year. And the many years before. The many years AHEAD. Laine said she is going to see her grandfather witness her in the next Olympic Games before time takes any of us.....for that smile from grandpa is what motivates her to rally onward. Laine is already an Olympic athlete in his mind.....but Laine wants the chance to prove it to him in all his and her glory. I feel she will get that chance indeed. Not only will the Ashker name be a recognized name, the Stephenson Shield of Arms will beam with pride and remain strong.
Which brings me to Ashker once more. Laine's father. Michael. I want to Thank You for your support in financially stretching to the outer limits in giving our kid the chance to live her dream as we did ours. From our 23 years of marriage and half of them struggling in the music business....we have gone through tumultuous ups and downs together in pursuit of 'making it' and now we follow our daughter's aspirations with the same zest for success. It is no surprise I call you when there is adversity in my life because we grew up together, won and lost together, and continue to support one another in our baby's struggle to be Happy and Fulfilled. You gave me my grandest gift. And only you. I thank you for understanding my idiosyncrasies and will take the gravy from our marriage to my grave. "If Almosts Counted".....no wonder I sang the hell outta your song....
My brother George and his wife Judy. I love you both so very, very much. The tough brother you were to me as your little sister carried me through this whole ordeal Georgie. You rescued me so many times growing up......and this would be no exception. And Judy. Your abundant prayers answered ALL. God could not walk away from all the prayer chains you started. I love you Jude.
Lynn Cruser, yo Baby! How in the world could I have got through each day without your silver Bug pulling up my drive at the close of each day to spin time talking over a good glass of wine??? I love you. When I move away....I will be lost without you.
I also know our 2 BELOVED boys Jamie & Frodo are looking down upon our convalescing souls and giving us strength to go forward in their absence. It has been an absolute struggle and immense heartbreak without them. It is a loss that painfully visits our hearts daily. I still have yet to change the feed schedules with their names on it. I probably never will. And Frodo's broom he chewed just the beginning of this year.....will be with me as a reminder of what happiness filled our barn of 11 years. I can say this. We always knew we had the barn of Kings.
Sunshine arrived to greet both Laine and I on Sunday morning with stadium first then finally cross country. We had a complete BLAST and Laine's ride was complete perfection aboard baby Seajack. That team will be a competitive duo next year. Hey, mom didn't do too bad either on Sucky Solar he's so 'affectionately' called! We got 2nd in our Training division. OK, OK.....out of 2!!! Looks like mom has more work to do. But then really, are Mom's 'work' ever truly done????
Time & Sunshine has brought me to this place in my life. And in this place are the friends and family I dearly love. And above that. The gift of Time and another chance I was blessed with to be with my daughter after April 26th. I see nothing greater than to maximize on that once in a lifetime Gift.
So look for me in my red boots and listen to the screaming send offs out of the box. That would be yours truly......doing what makes me most happy and proud......supporting the love and spirit of my extraordinary daughter Laine Evion Ashker.