Part of getting old is retrospect, remembering where you came from and figuring out how you ended up here. I don't think I was ever searching for recognition, fame or glory, but purpose yes and maybe a bit of wisdom.
I remember the very first night on SAINTS very first site, completely alone with 3 dozen animals. No supporters or volunteers or staff yet and thinking "holy shit what have you done?"
I remember a year later the move on to the new property, SAINTS then had a few supporters, a few volunteers. But I also remember having pneumonia and passing out all alone at the old place while trying to leave it in decent shape.
I remember a few years later cleaning the barn on my lunch break, feeding and meds for the others before and after work. The weekends were well covered with volunteers now but most of us still worked. So Monday to Friday there were very few available volunteers.
I remember breaking my ankle and suddenly there was no longer any choice but to start hiring people. The animals needed care come hell or high water..or broken ankles. It was one of the best decisions made. Suddenly we had paid staff that we could train.
The years since then have floated away, one problem solved after another, one more crises averted, one more triumph to celebrate as we grew and grew and grew.
There was always some kind of mind boggling issue: a person who stole from us, a few others taking advantage, the infighting, politics and competition that was so rampart in rescue back then, and my own personal struggle to not be seen as the crazy but saintly puppy hugging cat lady. I felt the work I did and how I did it was different but it was also legitimate and had value. The animals did really well in our care.
I feel so very passionately that these animals deserve to not only be treated with kindness and respect but also taken care of well. I believe in a world where they are not neglected, abandoned, discarded alone.
And I have never felt that I was quite good enough for all they deserved.
When I think of SAINTS and myself, removing all the white and distracting noise, the image I see is of Gideon standing off in a corner of the upper field, watching me. I could never figure out what he was thinking. It was a passive gaze. I never felt he was negatively or positively judging me, just watching for interest sake.
I miss that old horse, I miss his quiet gaze, I miss the times he decided to join me with his head over my shoulder while walking towards the barn. I miss that quiet acceptance that somehow or another we were both ok.
In retrospect, maybe never reaching the top of Everest was also ok.