While Rodger was out searching for fabric for our Color Guard vests and the horses pads, then having his friend sew them, he also was finding the holsters for the flags to sit in for our saddles. He was our leader every step of the way with the planning details. In the meantime we would practice in the arena working on riding our horses close together as well as in unity. David and I rode on the outside flanking David and Becky. We practiced doing turns as well as riding our horses at a trot or a canter in case we were riding in an arena carrying the flags in addition to in parades. We thought maybe we could ride as a group when the Contra Costa Fair came in July.
We had had a wet winter that year making the arena a mud hole a lot of the time. Our horses were frisky from being cooped up and not ridden too much. Still, whenever it seemed dry enough Rodger would have us practice. Most of the time it was David, Rodger and myself as Becky had odd hours of being a nurse at the hospital.
March came rolling in which meant my birthday. My parents thinking that my year in Antioch had been so hard on me thought to give me a surprise 15th party. What a horror for me when I walked into our house to find my school friends and my barn friends together saying "Surprise!". Two groups who had never met and couldn't have been more of a contrast from each other. I obviously felt uncomfortable just having my parents having anything to do with a party for me. I liked my friends, all of them, but they had nothing in common except for me. I could hardly wait for the evening to be over.
My next big shock was that my parents decided to divorce. It didn't really bother me as B. wasn't my real father and I didn't have that close a bond with him. Maybe it was the fact that I had heard them trying to get along but not doing so well, or maybe it was that I didn't care. I think I was selfish at 15 and could only see what I wanted. My mom, grandmother and myself would be moving into an apartment and B. to his own as well. My grandmother was still in Tennessee and would find upon her return a new residence we would be at.
Not long after B. moved out, he took me out to dinner. He was very nice to me, as he always was, but point blanked asked me if I wanted to live with him instead of my mom. I was floored. He brought up how my mom and I didn't get along and that it wouldn't get any easier with him gone. Not that he had ever intervened in any of our arguments. I firmly told him no. I let him know that while we fought she was my mom and I had no intention of abandoning her. Inside I thought that really it was my Nan that I couldn't abandon. I had missed her so much while she had been away. I never saw B. again or heard from him. In my adult years I came to find out that he had had an affair that started in Salinas and continued when we moved to Antioch. The woman was a friend of the family from way back when we lived in Atwater. It was insulting that he moved us from all our friends just so he could be closer to that woman.
I came home from school one afternoon to find our two poodles, Pepe and Charlie gone. When my mom came home from work that evening I asked her where they were. She very matter of fact said they had been ill for quite some time and they were put to sleep as they were not getting better. I was beside myself. I loved those dogs! I knew they both had been on special dog food but I could see nothing wrong with either of them whatsoever. They weren't old dogs either though they were near 9 nears of age. My never getting to give them one more hug, more more playtime, one more brushing, one more anything...no more hugs for those little guys. What I think happened, thinking through an adult mind now, was that where we would be moving they would not take pets. My mom had to think about where we would live and the dogs were not high on the priority for survival. Why we couldn't have found them a new home I will never no. The discussion and sorrow were not coming from my mom and I was at a loss for why my world continued to be turned upside down. My room became the only place I wanted to be. I look back and realize that these had to be very dark days for her as well.
In the meantime at the barn, Dub and somehow talked my mom into getting me a new saddle. I had outgrown my first saddle and we traded that one for a lovely tooled one that fit perfectly for my young adult body. I looked at all the areas of the saddle that someday I could add silver concho's to like the girls with their fancy show saddles. The only bright spot in the month of March, not that getting a new saddle dealt with my heartache.