2002 was a major turning point in my life. First, my mother passed away. Though she had been ill for a long time with other maladies, we didn’t learn she had cancer until just after Christmas of 2001. We were blessed, at least, that she suffered no pain – a rarity with ovarian cancer. After the diagnosis, she was gone within a week. We buried her on January 9th, at Oak Bluff Cemetery, in Port Neches, next to my dad.
I had given notice that I would retire at the beginning of the 2001-2002 school year, after 32 years of teaching, to help my little sister take care of Mom. Shelly had to hold down a job and care for a family and Mom for quite a few years, all because she lived in the same town as Mom. I felt pretty guilty about that and was going to try to make up for it at the end of the school year. It didn’t happen. Mom died midway into it, but the wheels had already been set in motion at school, so I retired. The English Department gave me a huge surprise party at the Grist Mill, in Gruene, on the final day of school. I was shocked, to say the least. As you can see, I “didn’t get the memo” to dress up. I was wearing our casual Friday, Ranger tee and jeans and felt a bit embarrassed about it; however, the people were lovely, the cake was delicious and the gift, a beautiful Guillaume Azoulay etching of a numbered edition, was exquisite. You will have to forgive me for not divulging its title and putting its picture on this blog. I will simply say it has animals I truly love on it.
So, Mom was gone, but her soul lives on in me. After all these years, I can still hear her voice say “Happy Birthday, Bebe (babe in Cajun)” in that playful tone of hers. I loved my mother deeply, and the grief cut into me for months. I might be doing something completely unrelated to her and find myself just breaking down and crying for no apparent reason. I guess that’s the way it is with grief – it releases itself over time, by seeping out rather than by gushing out all at once. Suddenly, I understood Legacy’s depression more than I had previously. I was about to help her grief “gush out” as fast as a pregnancy can gush.
So, I retired at the end of the school year and made good on that decision. Claudia and I would assuage Legacy’s grief by breeding her and giving her a foal. We explored our options around the area and found a stud we liked on The Copper Head Hill Ranch in a small, nearby town called Kingsbury. Bob Galloway, who helped me with my chicken coop extension, owned a beautiful palomino out of the famed Colonel Freckles, named Freckles Cowboy Gold. We were hoping for a palomino throw-back, so we decided on that stallion.
The breeding took place as soon as Legacy came into heat, and, after the second time she did, Veterinarian Scott Bugai announced, “it took,” which is cowboy talk for “she’s bred.” Now, we just had to wait a full year, which is the gestation period for a horse, to see what gender she would have. I turned her back out with the cows to graze, to eat her hay again, and simply go about her daily routine on the Double Bar M. The months ticked by slowly, but I knew her grief had an end in sight, though I could not make her understand that.
As Legacy’s time neared, I kept her in her pen and shed, and gave her oats, alfalfa, and nutrients that would help her produce a healthy foal and rich milk.
I also tended to her like I always did, such as cleaning out her hooves, to make her feel like nothing really had changed, though her body and her confinement were telling her something else. After all, she was ten years old and expecting her first foal. That’s unusual for a mare, so all these hormones swimming around in her were a completely new experience.
While we waited for the time to arrive, I got back to my farm chores, one of which w as to bottle feed a calf a cow had “thrown off,” cowboy talk for “rejected”. That would happen every now and then.
In BeakSpeak, Ms. Goldspeak is the only character we haven’t addressed, but she has a legitimate claim on speaking and teaching by conventional, English-language standards. Short-Cut Sean hasn’t been addressed, either, but his texting is only in the book for humor, since no one would seriously use texting short cuts in a school assignment or for a formal conversation. What Ms. Goldspeak would next want from her students would be to have them learn the language of syntax, which means how the words are arranged to create an action sentence. You would have a doer (subject noun), followed by an action verb, and then a done to word (object noun). You want to start elementary students learning these roles in exactly that order first. We will cover linking verbs in another blog.
Here are some sample word roles I think they are ready for at this age, and all are derived from BeakSpeak:
Fill-the-Space Chase uses unnecessary words. Chase is the doer (subject noun), uses is the action verb, and words is the done to (object noun)
Street-Talk Walt laughs at the pullets. Walt is the doer (subject noun), laughs is the action verb, and pullets is the done to (object noun)
Short-Cut Sean texted his friends. Sean is the doer (subject noun), texted his the action verb, and friends is the done to (object noun)
Nothing-New Sue insults Short Cut Sean. Sue is the doer (subject noun) insults is the action verb, and Sean is the done to (object noun)
All-the-Same Jayne humiliates Street-Talk Walt. Jayne is the doer (subject noun), humiliates is the action verb, Walt is the done to (object noun)
All-the-Same Jayne hurts Nothing-New Sue. Jayne is the doer (subject noun), hurts is the action verb, Sue is the done to (object noun)
Ms. Goldspeak respects her students. Ms. Goldspeak is the doer (subject noun), respects is the action verb, students is the done to (object noun)