Twenty Four

A special post by Andrea Kanakredes, RN, MSN.

In one moment, it is their first word. In another, it is their first step. Then, their very first day of school. Children grow so fast.

serious: Deborah after the first day of second grade (Aug 2002)

Our baby princess, Deborah, is twenty four. The years have slipped by much too quickly, especially the past few. Dad and I are so proud of who you have become. Beautiful, intelligent, talented easily come to mind.

Soon, you will begin a new chapter in your life. It will be the most challenging step you will take. Both dad and I know you will give your best effort. We know you will work hard to perfect your skills. In whatever you will do as your life’s work, you will be successful – whether as a physician, rancher or equestrian.

pure love: Deborah kissing her Comet (North Ranch, Mar 2018)

Always, you will be our first, beautiful princess. A princess who still quietly slips her hand into ours, and embraces ever so tightly.

My perfect princess, your dad’s perfect princess.

Happy 24, baby girl!

mom and dad
xoxo

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Riding: In The Southland

It was a short turnaround. Four days to be precise. Time enough for laundry. To prepare for a new set of shows. Knowing and choosing which horses will compete the best.

dressage moves: Elizabeth and Secret Agent Man warming up (North Ranch, Mar 2018)

“It is keeping yourself and your horses in a daily routine,” is how my daughters describe the four weeks away from home. Their June calendar, at first glance, appears busy. Practice, events and times marked for every day of the four show weeks, and in between. Their notebooks are filled with notes and observations on every hoof beat taken in practice, and in the show ring, this season. And, making sure they and their horses are ready for travel. “Preparation and organization are key, attention to detail required. But, you need to be practical and resourceful.”

warm-up: Elizabeth and Brie before the $15,000 Grand Prix qualifier (San Juan Capistrano, April 2018)

The four show weeks in San Juan Capistrano are well attended with riders from every skill level. Around 350-400 riders and nearly 850-900 horses compete every week, with a few calling it home for the month. “Each day is taken as they come. keeping it simple and relaxed makes for a better experience.” The four weeks may seem long. Large shows, though, have a way of making the days pass rather quickly.

While the first show week ended Sunday afternoon (Jun 10) with the last rider finishing the final event, my daughters had a short workout with their horses in one of the practice rings. It is not too early to look ahead to the next show week, which begins on Wednesday (Jun 13).

It is the equestrian way of life.

Deborah and Comet: the late afternoon workout (San Juan Capistrano, June 2018)

 

National Donut Day

Whether you spell it “doughnut” or “donut”, it really doesn’t matter. It’s National Donut Day across America.

donuts:  in the bakery case

Miss Egypt loved her cake donuts. We bought cake donuts special for her, national day or not. Definitely, on her day and holidays. It is safe to say, Egypt would “cat-approve” this day.

Miss Egypt having her cake donut (Oct 2006)

Have a donut, or two, to celebrate and cap off your week.

Notes

With Midnight having her yearly check-up, yesterday, we mentioned National Donut Day to our vet, Dr. Ramsel, and how Egypt loved her cake donuts. Dr. Ramsel wrote a reminder to herself, using a Sharpie pen on her hand, to have a cake donut for Egypt .

For more on National Doughnut Day, read the Wikipedia article here.

Memorial Day 2018

“Hero, not a chance,” he would say. “I do my job, giving my all, plain and simple.”

A good friend. An avid fisherman. A consummate professional. Deeply compassionate. These defined him as a man and a warrior.

Icelandic fishing: taking the team on a fishing trip (Sept 2004)

In April 2010, JR was killed in action. Posted with other SEALs in a remote corner of Afghanistan, he said their surroundings were stark. A barren, mountain valley nestled amid soaring, rugged mountains. It was no more dangerous than any other sector. “Afghanistan,” he said, “is a tired land. Her people are tired. Yet, both are ready to live again. Our task is to find her the time.”

He loved his wife and family to his fullest. Proud of Justin, his 19 year old son. And, more prouder of little Jessica, the daughter JR and Amy had tried to have for many years. “Better late than never,” JR said of Jessica. When Amy had Jessica, his life became complete.

sunset fishing: JR and Justin fish from the breakwater (San Diego, Jun 2008)

“I missed a lot of things,” mused JR of his profession. “Yet, Amy kept me in the game.” The profession does not lend itself to enduring, stable marriages. They had one of the few. Amy said, “I loved him with all my heart and soul. It was important in letting JR to do his work … and letting him know all those missed moments did not matter. We were together. That’s all what mattered.” They were a special pairing, clearly devoted to one another.

Amy was incredibly strong when JR came home. Not a tear was shed, nor a hint of emotion. When Andrea sang “Shenandoah” at the funeral mass, Amy’s composure began to quiver.  Amy regained her composure, and assured us she was ready to walk the procession behind his casket at the cemetery. The rainy, chilly weather was not enough to deter her.

foggy view at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery (April 2018)

Everyday is Memorial Day for Amy and her family. In the weeks after JR’s burial, her visits were a near daily occurrence – now, twice a week. Her main task is keeping JR’s memory, and essence, alive for Jessica. Only 5 months old at her dad’s passing, she knows him through photos, a few recordings and many stories. Soon, it will become my responsibility to pass along the stories of my friendship with her dad.

Amy and Jessica at the beach (San Diego, Oct 2017)

May the home fires burn bright, keeping the watch.

Riding: Grand Prix of Texas

Over the past four years, their riding season would begin in Texas. It made sense to begin here. Quality riders, from emerging talent to top amateurs to professionals. The shows are very competitive. The hospitality always inviting. The setting helped my daughters to develop in a highly competitive sport, and hone their skills and professionalism.

Tara and Cameron in 1.35 m GP Qualifier (Tyler, TX – May 2014)

When the four-show series concluded last year, the show managers were hinting of a change. It would be more than a refresh of the schedule and the adding of more sponsors. They wanted to make the shows more exciting and more entertaining. There were whispers of competing head-to-head with the more prestigious shows found in the Midwest, SoCal, Virginia and Kentucky. It would involve attracting top-level riders and expanding the audience base. Additionally, they would be competing head-to-head with the Texas rodeo season. A tall order by any measure.

With the new associations and commitments firmed, the new show series was announced. The Grand Prix of Texas consists of three Grand Prix events. The three-event, total-point series would begin in Tyler (Week One), move to Fort Worth (Week Two), then end in Dallas on Memorial Day. While riding three Grand Prix events in nine days sound daunting, in addition to other events, it isn’t in practice. It is a matter of knowing your horse, and a matter of the rider being prepared for the next event.

graphic courtesy of Southbound Shows®

Not beginning their season here, it has a different feel for my daughters. This series, though, comes at the right time for them. It is about stepping outside their comfort zone as it is about making adjustments.

The new championship, the quest begins on Saturday.

Tara and Cameron: 1.45/1.50 m Grand Prix warm-up (Tyler, TX – May 2017)

Happy Mom’s Day

Nothing compares to saying “I love you, mom” knowing she has everything she needs …

to care for the lawn and yard, knowing her power tools and lawn mower are in tip-top shape.

Happy Mom’s Day!

Guys and boys – Remember mom gets the best steak off the grill, medium-rare*, the premium beer dad has squirreled away in the back of the fridge, and all of the other extras served on celebratory days. Mom also expects her kitchen to be clean and spotless at the end of the day.

Graphic courtesy of RepairClinic®.

*It’s been determined by grillmasters a medium-rare done steak is the best – perfect flavor, tender, melt in the mouth quality.

New Trails

They have prepared themselves for this moment. They have studied much. They have studied hard. They have been inspired. They have inspired.

Our daughters have been accepted into two medical school programs, the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Long School of Medicine at UT Health in San Antonio. Both programs are excellent, and have produced outstanding MDs. One of those outstanding MDs is Laurie, Tara’s mom, who studied at UT – San Antonio. Andrea graduated from the University of Colorado nursing program at the BS and MS level. The inspiration for our girls is understandable.

University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Anschutz Medical Campus (Aurora, CO)

University of Texas Health Sciences Center (San Antonio, TX)

Choosing to pursue a career in medicine, or in the hard sciences, is not surprising. Deborah and Elizabeth, mom in nursing, dad in chemistry; Tara, her mom a trauma surgeon. Their essays on “what I want to be” in the 6th and 7th grades suggested a percolating interest. Becoming a professional equestrian, not so much. When their riding began to click, and making the jump from above-average novices to dominating juniors, the prospect of riding professionally became a little brighter.

We have encouraged our girls to follow their hearts in following their dreams. Moreover, we told them do not wait for a role model or a trailblazer to emerge – otherwise you’ll be waiting forever. “It is not much different from riding,” Mark and Trish have said. “If you want to be in any field, you must learn and study as much as you can, then always work to give your best.” Both Mark and Trish have always placed a premium on education for their young riders, and to encourage them to think beyond equine sports. “It’s okay to have dreams other than horses and to pursue those dreams.

entering the quad, University of Colorado School of Medicine

the quad and medical classroom buildings, seen from a lounge area in another medical classroom building
University of Colorado School of Medicine

In their individual interviews with both programs, our daughters were asked, “Why medicine? Why don’t you stay with riding?” Though the question came across as dismissive, our girls handled it with their usual grace. “Medicine and riding are much alike,” they proffered. “There are no guarantees. In riding, you always give your very best effort, every time, in the show ring. In medicine, a doctor must always give their very best with each individual patient. Anything less, you don’t belong in either field.

The pursuit of medical careers does not imply our daughters are finished with their riding, or taking a hiatus from the sport. They still plan to compete, but on a less expansive basis. It made choosing which school to attend fairly easy, the University of Colorado School of Medicine. They’ll be close to home and they’ll be close to their horses.

Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara are clearly excited about the journey they will soon embark on. They understand there will be long days ahead, yet they have not been wary of hard work. We could not be more proud and excited for them. Mark and Trish have no doubts they will succeed. “It is in their blood.

Ride now, ride forever

 

Photo credit: The photos used in this post are courtesy of the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Long School of Medicine, University of Texas Health Sciences Center – San Antonio.