The legs of a horse

Sometimes my mind remembers things it shouldn’t always remember.

This happens in time.

And one of those times involves the memories of a statue.

And the thoughts of a little kid who asked, for him, a thoughtful question.


As a kid, I would spend summers living with my Grandma Betty in Boston, rather than stay with my parents in a very toxic and painful environment.  During those summers, Grandma Betty would take me all over Boston – we would visit the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, the Larz Anderson car museum, all the fun locations.

One day, she and I went with my Aunt Elaine (who still operates an antique store in New Hampshire) for a yard sale and antiques run throughout New England.  We would drive here and there, and any time we saw a sign for a garage sale, a yard sale, a flea market, a tag sale or an estate sale, of course Grandma Betty would pull the car over, and we would see if any bargains existed.

Now I think I already told the story about how Grandma Betty explained how, at garage sales, the ticketed price on the item was negotiable.  You know, the fine art of speaking “haggle.”  She learned that I was a quick study, as I quickly – and cheekily – negotiated purchasing a Hot Wheels toy car from ten cents down to five cents.

But that’s not the part of the story I wish to share.

During one of these trips, we stopped at a town square.  The town square had a small park, and in the park was a statue of a man on a horse.  The horse was posed on its hind legs, with its forelegs in the air.

“Charlie,” Grandma Betty said to me, “There’s an old story about the horse’s legs on a statue.”

“What’s the story?” my little nine-year-old self asked.

“Well, if there’s a statute of a soldier on a horse, and the horse has one leg off the ground, then the soldier in the statue was injured in battle.  And if two of the horse’s legs are in the air, then the soldier died in that battle.”

So now my nine-year-old mind is thinking.  And I came up with the only logical question for that moment.

“Grandma Betty,” I asked, “If three legs are in the air, does that mean that the horse also died in battle?”

I can tell you that there was laughter in that car all the way home.

Grandma Betty was called to glory a decade ago.  And I still miss her today.

But it’s memories like this that make me glad she was part of my life and guided me through all the trauma and horror that would have frozen anybody else.  And even today, there are times I wish she wsa still around and could answer those questions for me once again.

Even the innocent questions of a nine-year-old kid.