Thanks for Stopping By….

by Ed Meyer

posted on December 16, 2015 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | 2 Comments >>

I’ve been a pretty lucky guy. – I have my health, my son, most of my family, and some pretty good friends. What more could you ask for ? – 2015 has me thinking about some of the special people whom I’ve been blessed to have in my life, and others who leave an indelible memory. As we get older wisdom blossoms, and the void in our heart grows. I guess that was how it was meant to be. On this chilly morning, I find myself thinking of a few in particular.  As we enter the Christmas / Holiday / New Year season. Here are a few stories of good people I’ve met in the travels of my life.

Todd = “His voice was what angels sound like at play.” It would resonate like a sweet lullaby to help you drift off to sleep. – Todd had a smile that could light up a room, or just catch your eye. There wasn’t a time he wasn’t helping someone, singing for shut-ins at Christmas, or willing to help out at the track. – I would ask if he’d like to sing the National Anthem, or the favorite songs of a patron that passed away for a morning service. – A rotund man with a heart as big as his voice. He battled ailments over the years, and somehow would make it back. He loved his community, his friends, and helping others. That was Todd. – His range was full and over-flowing. He could find the highest of notes and dwell in the deepest of range to allow all of us to shed a tear as we heard our National song. – I was stopped on the way out from work one day, and a gent who was close to this man of song informed me of the sad news. He was devout in faith and devoted in life. Rare is it to find an angel who reached our heart with song. – You’ll be missed my friend, but I’m sure you’ll be tapped to sing at Pearly Gates Downs where the great ones go to race for eternity.

Bill = He was always in the same spot, everyday with his father. The two could have been the odd couple at first sight, but if you looked a bit closer you would see a friendship with the strongest of bonds. – I saw Bill Jr. and asked where his partner (father) was on this sunny day. – ” Ed, he’s been battling a long illness. I don’t think he’ll be coming around anymore.” – The words drifted over me like winds of sadness, as I could see the loss set deep in his eyes. They were not only father and son, but were the best of friends. They were always at the track together, and even worked in the same insurance office for 30 years as a team. Inseparable is the word that first comes to mind, but what they had was rare. “Jr.” hadn’t been to the races in quite sometime. He told me it just wasn’t the same. His time was spent reading the paper to his father, making his lunch, and helping him settle in for the evening. His condition weakens everyday, and his memory is fading quick. ” He doesn’t remember much these days, and it’s hardest when he struggles to recognize my face. – I think this is the cruelest of hurt as you watch someone fade away right before your eyes. You can still see that gleam in their eyes from time to time, and you hope somewhere they remember that trip you made across country to see California racing long ago. Or how about the 25 straight Kentucky Derby trips made in your father’s Olds Cutlass ? – You look for a glimmer of past memories, and see only blank stares looking back. – ” It’s like everything has been erased. The moments we shared are long gone.” – Bill stopped out a few months later and informed me of the news. He said, “I just miss dad, and it won’t be the same. This will probably be my last trip out. No need to come anymore.”- I read in the paper he had passed away late in the summer. I can still remember their car pulling up to the parking gates as we would let them in free. When I made it inside the track, I would stop by a time or two a week and drop off a Daily Racing Form. “No need for two they would tell me, we always share.” – Our conversations were light, and they always talked among themselves looking for the next winner. – That was the magic. It wasn’t money or taking down the big score, it was time well spent with someone you love. – There was one time that stood out in my head as I can still see them walking in together. – Jr. had fallen and was recovering from a knee surgery. Bill Sr. was about 70 and was holding his arm to steady his gait as they headed for the seats. As these two well dressed gents made their way across the floor slowly, I could envision this being the same scene many years earlier as a father held the hand of a small boy walking into the track.

Many will tell you the holidays bring sadness in many ways. The young never really grasp, but in time we all understand. But this not being the case. It’s just a trip down memory lane of my life in racing. Sometimes its about the big score or the one that got away, and other times I feel a tear in the corner of my eye just thinking about the beauty along the way. – If I live to be 100, it was always the people that made the game so great. The Thoroughbreds were the show to behold, but the human connections celebrating the horse was the real reward. – Next time out, take your time and look around. I’ll bet you’ll see faces from the past as well as new ones for today. – Enjoy the ride, and don’t worry about the destination. It’s all about the journey.