Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally call Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who died in the service of our country. One of those brave men was my great, great grandfather, Daniel Johns (1825 − 1862). He died while serving in the South Carolina Infantry, Co. B 18 Reg’t C , during the Civil War, leaving behind a wife and four small children.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood


Happy Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and today is the Kentucky Derby. What do they have in common? Both are linked in my mind as a remembrance of my mother, Nancy Sain McGraw (1924 − 1987).  I consciously was not aware of my mother’s love affair with horses until I was in high school and we moved to an apartment near Hollywood Park in Inglewood. California. I then began to notice the section of the paper folded in half to the handicaps of the horses. This was the early 1960s and the jockeys of that time, such as Eddie Arcaro and Bill Shoemaker, became household names. At that time you could attend the last few races of the day for free, which we often did. I learned racetrack lingo. And of course when the Kentucky Derby was broadcast on TV my mother was glued to the set and was vocal about her favorite horse.

From my uncle I have learned that my grandmother, Jessie Cook Sain ( 1901 − 1997), was also an aficionado of the horses, but in my mind horse racing and my mother are intertwined. One of my best memories of my mother and horse racing is after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  In the summer of 1986,  my sister, mom and I took a road trip to Del Mar.  We spent the day at the track, laughing and having a good time. We got back to LA after dark, after finding an Italian restaurant on the way home.

So I watched the Kentucky Derby today and enjoyed the race. My mother would have know everything about each horse and jockey. I knew nothing. But I envisioned her urging her horse forward,  and I did get excited when Animal Kingdom came up and ran away with the race.

Again, Happy Mother’s Day.