Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's Kentucky Derby Day

There's nothing like the smell of horse manure and mint juleps to get the hearts of horse racing fans all aflutter. I count myself in that group, but have to confess that the past few years have seen a bit of the shine come off the day. It has nothing to do with the race or the sports itself, rather the lack of company that has brought about the change.

Spring and Summer Friday nights (every second week) were when my Mum and I would head on down to Stampede park in Calgary to catch the live races and lose some of our hard earned money. We would always reserve box seats, chow down on some overpriced food, and throw back the booze as we played. It was our special time, and my Mum would visibly bristle when anyone else in the family tagged along. The only day when "outsiders" were welcomed was Derby Day. It was an all day party event that usually consisted of a large number of family and friends, all having a great time and debating which horse was going to win it all. As i was the resident horse racing expert, I was normally looked upon to provide the winners, a task I greatly enjoyed.

Those great times came to an end when my Mum was diagnosed with cancer, eventually losing her brave battle a decade ago. With each passing year, my interest in the day has dwindled from mild excitement to almost complete apathy. It's just not the same without her, mispronouncing the horse names, the only standard she used for picking her winners. Her crazy logic in picking based on name was always a source of great humor for me, and I can still look at a race card today and KNOW exactly which horse she would choose in any given race....she would have had a bit of decision to make today with Archarcharch (she would probably say arkaharkharton, always adding letters that didn't exist in the original) or Mucho Macho Man. I think the latter would win out given her penchant for horses with the Boy, Lad or Man in the name.

It is an odd little coincidence that the Derby and Mother's day come back to back this weekend, and it is perhaps that which has roused my interest in today's race again. I don't believe in any sort of God, Heaven or Hell, but her's was an energy in life that doesn't just go away in death. I feel her around often, and "talk" to her on a daily basis. Today I feel her STRONGLY, and despite the fact that I have picked Shackleford to win, I will be quietly rooting for Mucho Macho Man, and will most likely have a pretty good sized lump in my throat if he does. It would be a perfect Mothers Day gift for us both, one that would enhance the strength of our bond, one that has never weakened despite the years she has been gone.

I miss you and love you......Happy Mother's Day Mum.


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