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  • Mary Orr

Supporting Dreams and Sacrificing...


There are moments in your life that leave a lasting impact. Moments that truly define you as a person. This story is one of those moments in my childhood that stuck in my mind and set the ground work for who I am today. This story my parents will probably not appreciate me sharing but I know it is important to share at this moment for those that read the Weekly Happenings and to remind me how I was raised and who I am no matter how uncertain things feel at this moment. So, here it goes....


For those of you that do not know, my mother was a school teacher and my father worked for the University of California. They worked hard and started life with an education, supportive parents and the dream of a family. Once married, Dan Marcum drove over 4 hours one way every Friday from Fall River Mills to UC Davis to finish his Ph D in plant pathology and then back home on Sunday to be ready for work on Monday morning. He stayed at Leo and Mary Jane Ellis's house in Sacramento for a home cooked meal and, of course, to save money. My mom stayed in Fall River Mills to keep the home fires burning and a few years later, to take care of their young children. This way of life for my parents lasted for over four years. When my dad walked across the stage to accept his PhD he had two small children and one excited wife cheering him on.


Fast forward 10 years. Mom and Dad had created a wonderful life in Fall River Mills and two very ambitious children. I was in love with horses and Jeff was obsessed with the ski slopes. Weekends were filled with the game plan of "divide and conquer". One parent would drive me to Red Bluff which was a 4 hour round trip on Friday after work and a return 4 hour round trip on Sunday afternoon. Another parent would drive Jeff to ski or sports or FFA depending on the weekend. I am learning, as a parent, it is so wonderful to have children with a passion but our passion was pricey and time consuming.  Sacrifices had to be made to support our dreams and my parents never backed down to the challenge. 


I will never forget listening one evening to a conversation between my parents.  I know everyone is surprised that I was the sneaky listener of the family! Mom and Dad were at the table talking about the upcoming month of activities and financial responsibilities. Jeff wanted to go to the National FFA Convention and my dad needed to go with him. There would be a week off of work, not to mention the expenses that went with plane tickets, hotels and convention costs for two people. This did not include me wanting to go to several horse shows and needing new clothing to stay at the top of the game. It was a lot. As I realized that I no longer wanted to "listen" to adult talk ,I remember my mom telling my dad that they would make it happen and she would do whatever it took to make it happen. She told dad that they would figure it out but they were going on the trip and I was showing, period. 


They made it happen. I do not know how, but Jeff and Dad went to the convention and I showed my horse. Looking back, I now realize how little we ate out and what we ate at home. I see that there were not new cars and fancy hotels. Only now do I think of all the things growing I never saw that my parents sacrificed so we could live our dreams. I never realized that Hamburger Helper fed a family of four inexpensively...it was just good food to me. 


Months later, we would lose my brother in a car accident. Months later, our family of four became three. Months later, my mom would experience the greatest loss of her life, losing her son. Months later she would sit me down and tell me how thankful she was for the sacrafices they made to drive us to our events and provide us with experiences because that was more important than things. She told me we no longer had Jeff but we had the memories and those memories are priceless. She was right. 


Today I am afraid of how we will keep things going. There are no shows to go to and no lessons to teach. It is a scary, uncertain time. This is what I know....if we have our health, those we love and are willing to work, we will make it. The time spent with your family, sharing memories is priceless. We are not promised tomorrow. I know Mom had no idea how she would make it work but she was determined. I am determined. My parents raised me to be determined. I know that when my dad drives his old red van, he is reminding me it is not what you have, but who you are and we are fighters. We are blessed. This is an odd time right now but it will not last forever. We have to survive. We have to dig in, follow the safety guidelines and when the time comes for us to get back to doing what we love, enjoy every moment of our horses, our family and our friends. This is a defining moment in our lives, let it make us stronger, better, more grateful and remember that hard work and never giving up is Who We Are. 


To every parent and family member that provides the gift of riding to those you love, thank you. Thank you for the financial and personal commitment. Thank you for giving the gift of working toward goals, the challenge of being better and the lesson that when you fall off, you get up and get back on. Riding is a life lesson, not just a hobby. Riding is a sport. Riding is a blessing and a passion that I appreciate more and more as I age. May we be kind to one another, not give up and be grateful for the little things. 


Have a great week. 

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