Welcome back to D’s world. As I share my journey of being D’s mom, I have to share that his sense of humor is out of this world. And the funny thing is, he’s not even trying to be funny; he is just being D.
In D’s world, we have horse adventures, mostly imaginary. He tells grand stories about him and his horse. They are often roping, but not cattle. He’s roping my dog Claude (with whom he has a love/ hate relationship), deer, and sometimes elk. Yep, that’s what I said. He has a vision of running through the trees on his horse, roping an elk, and dragging it back to the house.
Let me set this story up for you. We live in a wildlife preserve. My sweet-hearted husband loves nature and had his dream to preserve the land where our home is located and place it into a conservation easement. This easement removes development rights. Thus this open space has become an enchanted forest. At any given time, we have deer, coyotes, elk, red hawks, owls, and of course, the resident porcupine, Pip.
Along with the wildlife, we have our three girls – that being, our three horses have brought so much joy to our lives. In fact, in my journey of maneuvering grief, I found my Lexi. She’s my therapy horse, and she saved me. There have been many days that she dried my tears on her beautiful mane and looked upon me with loving, understanding eyes. Along with Lexi, we have Henri, short for Henrietta and Mira. Henri is my husband’s girl, and Mira and D belong to each other.
Mira is a Paso Fino. This horse breed is known for its “cute” gait and compact body type, the exact opposite of D. He’s always topped both the height and weight charts at doctor’s visits. So to say that Mira and D are quite the pair is an understatement. But she loves him, and he loves her. They get each other. The other part of Mira that makes this comical is that she is 25 years old, and she has two speeds- off and on. She loves to run. Their friendship makes D’s world even more fun. While he rides, you can see him so focused, and you know that he is envisioning all kinds of grand adventures, and she is all in, ready for all the fun.
Now back to the imaginary roping: Part of D’s obsession with roping is his brother. The story of them finding each other is a miracle story as Jesus did his excellent work. When I adopted D, I had to go through many required adoption sessions with an adoption counselor. I learned through those sessions that D had a half-brother that was almost five years older. I never knew his last name, just his first name. For his privacy, I’m just going to call him Brother.
Over the years, I would try to find out more about him, but all came to dead ends until the summer of 2020. I was snooping on Facebook, and I saw a post about a young man with Brother’s first name who still lives in the area of my hometown where I adopted D. As a former high school principal, I learned the power of snooping, and I kept digging for more information. It just so happened that there was a picture of a young man who had made it to the National Finals High School Rodeo for roping, and he looked so much like my D. Along with the picture was the last name! So I began googling his name, and it turned out more photos and one picture that showed him working at the livestock auction. So here’s the twisted part of fate, the livestock auction is owned by my daughter’s dad’s family – yep, my ex-husband’s family. So I called my daughter’s dad and asked him if he knew this young man. Sure enough, he did and said, “He’s a good boy, raised by his grandparents.” So I asked for his grandparents’ names. More info to google – I love digging and thank God for small-town newspapers; they need stories and report on just about anything. There had been a report regarding a county tax assessment change, and there was a woman that matched the description of Brother’s grandmother, who worked in the assessor’s office. I then looked for a phone number and found one! I called the number and began the conversation like this, “Hi, my name is Ember, and this may be an extraordinary phone call for you. I think your grandson, Brother, is my son’s half-brother.” She was lovely and open, and after a few minutes, we knew we had hit the Jackpot. Sure enough, the same mothers!
Over the next few weeks, we sent pictures and talked a lot. I sent an image that had D’s handwriting, and it was identical to Brother’s “scribbles.” Just weird! We arranged to meet later in the month so the boys could see each other. Traveling back to our hometown, D had a few questions, primarily about if Brother would like him. Upon arrival, we unpacked, and I let Brother’s grandparents know we were ready for the introduction. Anticipation gnawed at us, and I remember thinking that this adoption journey had all kinds of twists and turns. Finally, as the truck arrived, we went outside to meet them. In one moment of summing each other up, they embraced. And so the story of brothers begins.
D thinks his brother is the coolest thing, and anything Brother does, D has dreams of doing, too. He wants to be a roper like his brother, and every time they visit, Brother and D spend hours ground roping. Back at our home, I’ve encouraged D to go outside and practice, but it just isn’t the same without Brother. All the while, D’s stories of roping elk and coyotes continue with his big award-winning roping horse, AKA Mira; They’re winning the buckles at the rodeos.
So let’s pause. As a parent who wants my child to be as successful as possible, we’ve thrown a lot of possibilities at D to see if they may stick with him. Hockey – ummmm, no. D not only is he tall and thick, but his feet are also as wide as they are long. No joke. We call them lovingly Fred Flinstones. (BTW, someone could make millions if you could buy wide cowboy boots for feet like Ds. They do NOT exist. We’ve tried everything. ) So ice skates certainly will not work. What about soccer? He would run around like a mad man but never in the right direction. A unique part of D’s world is that he is highly active and, if given rules, almost always will do the opposite. Baseball? D loves playing in the dirt, so he would sit in the field and draw in or throw dirt because of the lack of running. Skiing? YES! He learned to ski, has excelled, and we love to ski as a family, except back to the feet. We have had to have specially made boots for years. He would cry in pain with so-called wide ski boots, and I finally gave into custom-made, which did wonders for D but broke the bank.
As we were in the car talking, I told D that we would get him roping lessons from a local roper, and he could learn to rodeo. As the conversation progressed, we talked about lessons and that he would need to take this seriously and practice every day. He asked about getting a roping horse and what kind of tack he would need. Finally, I looked at him and said, “Look, this will be expensive. If you want to be a roper, you will need to practice a lot. But, I will not pay for these lessons and nag you to practice. It just costs too much.” He looked at me for a long time and finally said, “Mom, can I get back to you?”
And there it was, his magical humor that comes unexpectedly. With his humor also came a great big lesson for me. D likes his imaginary world. It gives him freedom within the protection of being in the safety of the boundaries of our home. In the background, I can hear the still small voice inside that just says, “Let D be in his world. It is good.” Being in his world is not good. It’s great!
My yearning is that we can continue to take a deep breath, let our kids be kids, and just enjoy the world they live in.