Daddy called me princess. I think all girls should feel like a princess. All daddies should make they daughters feel like a princess. I felt like a princess with two feet solidly on the ground. I felt loved.
I was born at Fort Rucker, Alabama when my father was in flight school, learning to fly airplanes. He was an Army Master Aviator. We moved when I was a baby. My Mom liked to say I was born in L.A. – lower Alabama. She loved being an Army wife. She loved being married to my Dad. My mother was only 20 years old when I was born and my Dad was 23.
We moved around more often than the friends I had in Centerville, Tennessee. We moved to Mineral Wells, Texas when I was 2 years old and my father learned to fly helicopters. We moved to Los Angeles, CA when I was 5 years old and my father went to school at UCLA. When I was 8 years old we lived in Alexandria, VA for 6 months while Dad was at the Pentagon and we moved to Arlington, VA when I was 12 years old for a year when he went back to the Pentagon. My Mom loved the D.C. area. We would get home from school and she would take us on an adventure. We explored the Smithsonian weekly, we went to Mount Vernon, we knew all the monuments, we went to the Capital…we took advantage of all the area had to offer. The last time we moved, with the military, I was 13 years old. We moved to Fort Leavenworth, KS for my Dad to attend Command and General Staff College. We lived outside of Fort Leavenworth in Platte City, MO. I cried all the way to Missouri. I didn’t want to leave my friends. I didn’t know if anyone in Missouri would like me. My Mom told me something on that drive that stuck with me. She said, “no one knows you here. You can be whoever you want to be. No one knows you are shy”. That comment didn’t change me into a confident extrovert but it did give me the belief that everything would be ok.
We moved around with the military but we always came back to Centerville, TN. One of the constants in my childhood was my pony; she was always there when we came back to Tennessee.
Buttermilk was a birthday gift for me on my fourth birthday. I don’t know that I would have remembered all the details of Buttermilk’s arrival if they had not brought her home in the back of our blue station wagon. It never dawned on me that was an odd way to bring a pony home. I was born on January 8th so I often got Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday gifts from other relatives. My parents always went out of their way to make a big deal over my birthday instead of lumping it in with Christmas. My pony was the best present I ever received for a birthday. Buttermilk was a huge part of my childhood. She was a part of my life from age 4 until we moved to Nashville when I was 13. I always thought I would have a horse.
When I went through my cancer treatments I often thought of my childhood. You are so free as a child; free of fear, free of stress and free of the knowledge of your own mortality. There is a kind of peace you can find when looking into the eyes of a horse. The memory of Buttermilk’s eyes eased much of my fear while I was waiting on the results of my mammogram…