The first Saturday of May is a day my family anticipates. Eagerly. For those of you not already with me, it's the Running of the Roses, the first jewel in the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby.
I grew up going to horse races. After moving to the St. Louis area, my parents attended their first horse race and became fans. They didn't have family here to babysit us, so we got to attend. (Back in those days, grade school kids rarely had homework.) My older siblings sometimes stayed home with us younger ones, but a lot of time, it was off to the races!
I loved rooting for the horse my parents bet on, watching all the horses run, and the rush to ticket window to make a last minute bet or collect our winnings. We always went down once during the night to watch the horses get saddled. It was thrilling to see a horse change into a racehorse.
My mom changed jobs and became friends with a woman whose boyfriend owned and trained racehorses, and going became even more fun. We didn't have insider information, but we had someone to root for. We heard stories about some of the race people, and we had an insight into the workings behind the scenes, which always makes an event more interesting.
One time when the boyfriend's horse won, my parents and sister were photographed with him and the horse in the winner's circle. I always joke that I was there but they wouldn't let me in the picture, but honestly, I don't know where I was. I cherish that picture for the memories of those years.
Today, I'll be watching the race on the TV. It's on against my beloved Cardinals baseball, so I might be doing some switching of channels, but when they load the horses into the gate, I'll be riveted. Okay, I admit, I have no idea who's running, but by race time, I'll have my favorite--based on color, body size and muscles, and how spirited it appears. Sometimes I have a sentimental favorite based on the story behind the horse (the owner's or jockey's life or the struggles with health the horse has been through or whatever), but I'll also know who I think will win.
If you want real guidance, call my mom. She knows the names of the horses running, their track records so far, the reputation of their stable and owners, etc. LOL She's been watching the horse racing channel and reading the sports page. Thursday before my booksigning, she told me who the winner should be. You can bet I'll call her right after the race.
For all those happy memories and others, I want to take this opportunity to say Happy Mother's Day to my mom. I extend that wish to all the moms reading this as well.
What particular event did your family take part in that shaped you? Share with us as we all put on our pretty Spring hats and get ready to sing "My Old Kentucky Home."
The Marriage Solution, May 2011