Tom on Shadow; me riding Major. It always thrilled me that he let me ride the bigger horse.
My great uncle died on Sunday. He was a quiet guy with a somewhat gruff manner and that sometimes made me unsure of myself in his presence -- if we tried to talk. But I probably spent more time with him than with anyone else during our visits when I was a kid. As my mom likes to tell it, when my family pulled into their driveway in Holly, Uncle Tom had his boots on before our car had come to a complete stop. He and I went straight to the barn, groomed the horses, and went for a ride. Then we'd tend the sheep, maybe visit the pigs up the road, put the dog through her paces, and say hi to barn cats. That I was quiet around him and passionate about animals (which extended to helping muck out stalls and tend the tack) meant that we got along just fine in the end. RIP, Uncle Tom.