Brian and I watched the Kentucky Derby today.
Watching the Derby was a tradition that Brian had with his Grandpa Downey. His grandfather had been a jockey at one point and loved horses. He instilled this love into Brian as he taught him to ride and appreciate these amazing creatures.
Later in life the two of them would watch the Derby together and talk about the horses and the potential outcome. Even after Brian moved to Texas, they would talk on the phone multiple times that day as they watched the coverage that precedes the race. This is a precious memory that Brian holds dear.
In true Derby fashion, the race should be accompanied by a mint julep. But when Brian asked the produce guy if he could look in the back for more mint, he discovered the store was sold out– something about a horse race. Hmm. I suggested he try buying a mint plant at the Home Depot next door, and in true Brian fashion, we came home with our own herb garden and will now be growing our own herbs. That way, when the mint sells out next year on Derby Day, it will not affect the Lundin household 🙂
The actual race wasn’t scheduled until 5pm, but there is all day coverage that leads up to the race. There are touching stories about the horses and their owners and trainers. There are history highlights and interviews. My personal favorite was when they would talk about the hats– and I decided that I need an occasion to wear a ridiculous hat. Pretty excited about that.
As the race approached, I stopped piddling in the kitchen to come sit in the living room with Brian. He made mint juleps for the both of us. I am not a whisky drinker in any shape or form, but I took mine gladly and took tiny sip after tiny sip, trying my best to not made a face after each.
The Derby was a very exciting two minutes. I got into it much more than I had anticipated (I’m sure the emotional stories I watched about the horses had something to do with it). But more than anything, I knew that Brian wanted me there– it was important that I experience this with him.
This day brings back memories of so many of these days for Brian. He loved his Grandpa Downey so very much and often tells me how much he wishes I could have known him. But I feel like I do, in a way. Every time Brian talks about horseback riding, I learn more about Grandpa. Every time he talks about Derby days past, I learn about Grandpa. When he showed me his grandfather’s Bible with all of the notes and cards and pictures stored inside, I learned about Grandpa. With every story and memory, I begin to see Grandpa Downey even more clearly– through Brian’s eyes. And I can’t think of any better way to get to know someone who is gone, than through the sweet recollections of a grandson who loved his grandfather so dearly.
I know that one day I’ll meet Grandpa Downey. We’ll be in heaven praising Jesus together forever. I hope that in the same way that Brian tells me about him, I’ll get to tell Grandpa Downey about the Brian that he wasn’t here for– the Brian who got married and made me the happiest woman in the world, and the Brian who makes mint juleps on Derby Day with the mint in his herb garden. I hope he gets to see Brian through the sweet recollections of the one who loved him dearly.