1989: You were a star…in a small fishbowl sort of way.
You were so different from me.
A tiny blond with delicate features and brown eyes, you always reminded me of a pint-sized version of Tammy Wynette. You were a 1970’s era-looking beauty. Rural in all of the best ways possible.
We spoke the same language. Wry, old-school-twang, peppered with just enough profanity to keep it fun.
I had safety with you, Vickie Bob.
We had a mutual friend. The kind of jealous girlfriend who did everything she possibly could to keep us apart because of what would happen when these two world’s collided.
And rightfully so.
You were horse crazy. I think even more than I was. Every spring a new colt was going to be “the one” and you would move heaven and earth to have it. You had the crew cab truck and the goose neck trailer and looked so hot in your Wranglers, Stetson hat and tiny little waist.
And the way you would smile and roll your eyes when I would show up wearing a ball cap on backwards and a cut-off motorcycle t-shirt. I was a little dark and edgy back then, drank a little too much and was the complete anti-girl, but you loved me anyway.
We hit every backwoods dusty rodeo arena within a 150 mile radius, honing our skills, working with green horses, eating chili fritto pies and swapping stories.
I’ll never forget the day your truck finally broke down and we were forced to stick our thumbs out. Nobody would stop and our bids for a ride became increasingly emboldened after every passing car until a cop pulled over to see just what the hell we were up to. We were laughing so hard that he thought we were drunk.
No one in their right mind was going to pull over for our shenanigans.
Every man in Douglas county and all the surrounding counties wanted you, yet you were so afraid of being alone that you would make one bad choice right after another. In your mind, you were still the fatherless little girl from the Kirksville, Missouri trailer park. You worked hard to pull yourself up and out of poverty.
You were whip-smart but still doubted yourself and your abilities.
You walked me through my divorce, taking my calls in the middle of the night, reminding me why I made the choice I had to make and helping me, with great humor and wisdom, to stick with it. You never got sick of it when I would call you and ask you to “take me through the list” And you would, point by point, until I was able to get clear.
1993: When you found out, you hunted me down in Colorado and I took you up to the reservation for chokecherry juice, sage and a cure. Throughout the long years of your fight, the search for the perfect horse continued and you and I would go see the prospects, once with your chemo treatment apparatus in-tow. You were on a mission to suck every last bit of marrow from this life. And you were just so stinking strong that you didn’t know how to let anyone care for you.
Sometimes I would get so damn angry as I would watch you force yourself aboard a horse and out into the arena, your face white and drawn, knowing that you were so, so sick.
I would give you gifts of tack and flowers…you’d return the favor by giving me some gag gift I thought I’d never use…but would end up using at some point. When I turned 40, you gave me my first pair of readers.
I thought it was a funny joke, until I had to start using them a few years later. I still have them.
2007: I have some unfinished business with you Vickie Bob. During your final year, you withdrew into your boyfriend and your small property out in Baldwin.
And I let you do this, because I was afraid.
It haunts me to this day.
I wish I would have barged my way in there and helped you in your final days if you would have had it.
I especially think of you in the early spring when I see the foals as I pass the farms and ranches on the highway. I look them over and wonder what you would think.
Every now and then I see one. A buckskin or a dun that I know you would like.
You were imperfect, unstoppable, a true friend.
And I miss you.
Author: Jenny Wise
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: author’s own