Saturday, June 6, 2015

Horse Racing and Life

Until today, there had only been 11 Triple Crown winners since 1919. Eleven in 95 years. But today, American Pharaoh became number 12--the first since 1978 (Affirmed).

There have only been five Triple Crown winners in my lifetime: 1948 (Citation), I was one year old and obviously didn't care; 1977 (Seattle Slew) and 1973 (Secretariat): and today, of course.

I remember watching the races with Seattle Slew and Secretariat. I don't remember Affirmed as well, though I must have watched one or two.

I didn't see American Pharaoh live, but watched it on line a few minutes ago and actually shed a tear or two. Why would I get misty about horse racing? I've never been to a horse track or bet on a race (I might have seen some harness racing at the West Virginia State Fair when I was very young, but it is a blur of a memory.

Maybe it's because those three races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont are part of the American culture in an indelable way. Truth be known, a very small percentage of the country follow horse racing, but those three races are front and center in our collective consciousness. Can't avoid them even if you try.

And the last time the Triple Crown was won, I was 31. Our son was almost 3 and Bern was pregnant with our daughter. We lived on Hazelwood Avenue in Charleston, West Virginia. We were, in many ways, children (still!) raising children.

We used to go to a Kentucky Derby Party every year in New Haven. It doesn't happen anymore, but it was important at the time.

In the 37 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown, my life has gone on and on.

You need milestones as you go along. Posts to tie the years to. I think that's what it is. Every year the Triple Crown races intrude into my life. And the only posts in the ground is when one horse wins them all.

So, I wept with joy and sadness for all the joy and sadness (much more joy than sadness, I'm glad to report) since Affirmed.

Thank you, American Pharaoh, for giving me a touchstone to my life in the last 37 father's death, the death of both Bern's parents, Mimi's birth, both those amazing lives (Josh and Mimi), their marriages, our granddaughters. So much life since the last Triple Crown.

It's wonderful to ponder your life. And, in some weird way, American Pharaoh caused me to ponder.

Thank you Triple Crown....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.