Mom loved many things, but she had a special fondness for horses. She had been around them as a child, growing up on a farm. Surprisingly, she never learned to ride.
Mom also loved horse racing. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s how my parents met, with Mom asking Dad at the diner for the sports section so she could see the horse racing results.
I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding the world of horse racing, and those concerns should be addressed. But for me, there is a sentimental factor involved. My parents brought me to horse racing outings throughout my childhood, and I remember those days with fondness.
While going through a pile of paperwork I’d set aside after Mom died, I came across a box marked, “Tax Returns.” ZZZZ, I thought. Still, I flipped through the neatly organized tax return envelopes, some going back to the early 1990s. And I was rewarded when I got to the end, when I came across a pile of personal belongings.
One of the pieces buried in the tax box was a Hollywood Park racing program. As I flipped through it, I realized it was a memento from one of Mom’s favorite memories.
Many of my parents’ early dates revolved around going to the races. They both shared a love of horse racing, so it was a natural destination. There was one outing my mother remembered fondly, maybe my father, not so much. Mom recounted a day where the two of them had basically broke even with their bets until the last two races of the day. Dad struck first, winning $13.20 in the eighth race. But Mom had the last laugh, winning $53 in the ninth race. She never forgot the name of the winning horse, and neither have I: Hail to Garr. And now there it was in print for me to see for the first time.
Mom made notes in the program to highlight their winnings. She said Dad was quiet on the way back, and seemed to be fuming that Mom trumped him in winnings, haha.
I’m so glad that I finally went through that “boring” box of tax returns. I found it on Saturday, just after the Kentucky Derby race. That’s now a bittersweet event for me, because it was one of the last happy moments Mom and I had together. She was too weak to get out of bed, but we watched the race via livestream on my computer.
The year she died, there was a Triple Crown winner, but she didn’t live long enough to see history being made.