You know the story, for
I told it to you on several occasions in our short time together. I needed a horse. Not just
any horse, but a horse that would be good on trails. A horse that was not
too young, not too old, and one that would click with me.
You were that horse, Liza.
The moment I saw your picture, I knew you were the one. I couldn't get you
out of my mind no matter how many other horses I looked at. I always came
back to the picture of you standing in that field in south Texas. You stayed
in the back of my mind like a bright shining star. You were gorgeous; a sorrel
and white medicine hat paint with one blue eye, you stood 14 hands and were
the picture of perfection in my eyes.
I was nervous when we met
you; you were larger than life, and you looked out of the stock trailer,
your blue eye trained on us, waiting to see what would happen next. You fairly
bounded out of that trailer, and stood, nostrils quivering, as you took in
the unfamiliar scents around you. Quietly, I stroked your shoulder, speaking
your name in a whisper. You looked at me, and I knew that my 'perfect horse'
We spent so much time together,
Liza. We went on trail rides, and to playdays, or rode on the quiet country
roads surrounding the barn. My daughter rode you several times, and my husband
rode you a time or two. You always had your head over the stall door, whickering
in greeting when we pulled up each day. You were my encouragement when I
felt defeated, and my laughter when I wanted to cry. You taught me that God
answers even the smallest of prayers, for He answered mine with
When you got the mastitis,
we were told what to do, and we did everything we could, Liza. Everything.
I hated leaving you at the vet's office, but he would take good care of you.
You whickered at us when we left and it tore me up inside. We battled the
infection as it grew worse and worse. But you never gave up. Never acted
sick or in pain. You were always there, with your head over the stall door,
greeting us happily each day.
I knew it was bad the last
time we took you to the vet. I didn't want to leave you yet again. But, I
did; hoping that something would happen and cure the massive infection that
had spread to your abdomen. The vet was encouraging; he had tried something
else, and told us not to worry. So, I hugged you goodbye again, and left
you once more in the vet's capable hands.
It was three days before
my birthday, Liza. Three days when I got a feeling that you needed me. I
felt a deep prodding to bring you home, but the circumstances at the time
did not allow it. I tried to tell myself that you were okay, and that you
were with someone who was taking excellent care of you. But the feeling didn't
leave me. I felt you calling to my heart, and it tugged at me all
I called the Vet the next
day, and was told the terrible news of your death the day before. I'd been
away from a phone, and the vet had been unable to reach me. Sometimes, I
feel its my fault, Liza. But what could I have done? I was too far away,
and although I felt you calling, I couldn't come to you.
You died peacefully, Liza.
From what I understand, you just laid down and went to sleep. The Vet was
so sorry; I felt bad for him, because I know he was upset and feeling as
though he'd failed.
Liza, I think of you so
much now. There were so many trails to explore; trails that you and I will
never explore together. Although you were in my life for only 16 months, we
had good times, and those memories are what keep me going now.
I take comfort in knowing that uncle Hank was there at Heaven's gate to meet
you, and open the gate for you, and that someday I'll see you again. There'll
be other horses come into my life. But none will be like you. I will never
forget you, Liza. You were my perfect horse.
Oh! I have slipped the
surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Pilot Officer Gillespie
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941