|Dear Stepfather's family at the field this morning. Little brown mare on the right, Darwin the Dog in the middle, me on the far left with my mighty red mare.|
The dear Stepfather came down to say goodbye to the horses, which was stupidly sad. I would often ride the red mare up to his front door and he would come out with perfectly cut-up pieces of apple for her. (She is very grand and does not like eating whole apples.) They had a whole little thing going on. ‘It’s been a pleasure to know you,’ he said, ‘and I’m sorry there will be no more apples.’ She nodded and blinked her eyes at him and he stroked her kind face.
I collected the very last of my mother’s things. A blanket, a log basket, some hats. The packers were in the house, very cheerful. Stanley the Dog had already bust in on them, giving them a little surprise. ‘He has never met a door he could not open,’ I said. I did not explain that he used to go and see my mum when he was in the mood. She would be watching television in her special chair and look down to see Stanley sitting quietly beside her. They had a thing going on, too.
Do one lovely thing, said a voice in my head. When there are sorrowful days, make sure you do one lovely thing. A gale had blown in out of the west and the Wellingtonias were swaying around like drunken sailors. I felt a slight Chicken Licken doubt. It would be quite bonkers at this stage if a tree fell on my head. Defying the elements, I got on my little brown mare, and we trotted off through the long grass. She didn’t care about the gales. She cruised through the weather as if she was on a mission. She was, without doubt, a lovely thing. She’s very sensitive and will pick up on my moods. If I carry tension, she starts revving her Ferrari engine. But today, despite the howling winds, despite my frame of mind, despite everything, she carried me with tenderness and grace.
One lovely thing. Every damn day.