Sunday, June 03, 2012

Photo Finish

The morning of Dad's memorial service, some of my co-workers had planned to meet at Santa Anita Park and have breakfast at Clocker's Corner. I thought about going, but then thought that, with the service later that day, it would make the day too hectic.

Then I thought about it again and changed my mind. Both mom and dad had loved going to the horse races. Dad more so than mom, but they'd spent a lot of time there during a time in their lives, and had enjoyed every minute of it. I decided that I couldn't think of a better way to start a day that was going to focus on honoring my dad. I asked Catherine to add our names to the reservation list.

At nine that morning, Kevin, Vicky and I headed over to the track. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the horses were out on the track working out while we ate breakfast. Just to the right of our table, at a pub table near the track, stood Bob Baffert - horse owner and trainer extraordinaire. Everyone whispered about him being there, and pointed him out to the others. I knew him the moment I saw him. Many a time we'd watch television on a race day - specifically the Kentucky Derby - and Bob Baffert would be there with one of his horses, preparing for the big race. He's pretty much a fixture at Santa Anita, so it wasn't surprising he was there.

As we got up to leave, I diverted and walked over to the table where Mr. Baffert was standing with a friend. I introduced myself and told him that he didn't know me from Adam and, though I was sure it wouldn't make a hill of beans difference to him, my father had always enjoyed following him and his horses. I told him that dad had passed away and later that day we'd be having his memorial service and we'd been out there that morning to honor dad. I told him that my dad would love knowing that I'd talked to him, and I wanted to shake his hand and say thank you for the years of wonderful memories. He looked pretty stunned. He smiled, shook my hand and said thank you. We left and headed home to prepare for the service.

A couple weeks passed and I spoke with an acquaintance who had also been at the track for breakfast that morning. He asked how dad's service had gone and I told him that it went well and we'd all enjoyed spending time together telling stories about dad. He said that he'd wanted to say something to me before we left the track that morning, but that I'd gone over to talk to Bob Baffert and he didn't want to interrupt. He said "I don't know what you said to him, but he was quite touched. After you walked away, he turned to his friend with a huge smile on his face and said 'That's the sweetest thing that will happen to me all day.'" How nice is that?

It was so nice that Daniel told me what was said after I walked away. Knowing that I made someone's day, made my day, too. So often we never know how we touch other people's lives by what we say and do. It's really a shame that we don't take the opportunity to tell each other more often how much what they've said or done has impacted our lives. I'm going to try to be better at doing that. Join me, won't you?

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