I have a super specific memory of being 6 years old and on a road trip with my family. I’m guessing we were probably going to eastern Washington to visit relatives or to a WSU football game. Anyways, I know we were in the country because we were driving past miles after miles of fields spotted with cows and horses. My two older sisters, Linds and Cole, and I were talking about our favorite animals. Cole, the oldest, announced that hers were horses. Then Linds said hers were too. Third in line, it was my turn, so I declared my love of the equine species as well.
Here’s the thing. I’m the animal lover of the family. We all are, as a matter of fact, but I take it to a whole new level and its always been that way. Cole and Linds probably did like horses, but there is no denying that any love they had paled in comparison to mine.
Yet, for no other reason than they were my sisters and they were older and probably bored on a road trip in the back of the minivan, Cole and Linds decided to convince me I had to choose another favorite animal. I remember them telling me that they already loved horses and we couldn’t all love the same thing, which is hilarious because now that we’re 31, 34, and 37, we all show up to family gatherings embarrassingly dressed as triplets because we love and buy the same thing all the time. But they were pretty sure I had to pick another animal. I didn’t want to of course.
“But Laura,” Cole explained in her saddest voice, “everyone loves horses.” She looked out the window and pointed, “what about cows? No one loves cows. When have you ever heard someone say that cows are their favorite animals? Never. People just eat them, poor things.”
I looked at Cole and then at Linds and then out the window at those poor cows, “OK.” I then announced boldly to my parents in the front seat that I had changed my mine and cows were now my favorite animal.
Over the course of the next few years I collected every cow item I could get my hands on. I had a cow pillow, stuffed cows, cow figurines, my grandma even gave me a cow made out of the ash from Mt. St. Helens. And still to this day I find myself drawn to cows and horses and farms and the country and open air and minivans…..OK, not drawn to minivans but apparently I dream about them.
Tonight, when we go to my parents house for our Friday night dinner I saw this sitting next to my mom’s coffee maker.
It was a gift my grandma gave me way back in 1992. I’m pretty sure it was for my 7th birthday. I looked at the bottom, where my grandma had written her name in penmanship that looks just exactly like my own mother’s beautiful writing.
My grandma passed away right after I turned 10, and looking at that cow brought back all my memories of her. Of her walking me to elementary school in the 4th grade and teaching me shorthand along the way. Of her once tucking my dark hair behind one of my ears as she dropped me off and saying, “Here, I see all the girls wearing it like this.” I waited until I had rounded the corner before untucking it so that I wouldn’t hurt her feelings. Of her wearing different colored sweatsuits or getting dressed up to go square dancing and looking just beautiful no matter what. Of saying goodbye to her before I left for horse camp and my parents telling me that this might be my last goodbye. It was.
All these memories. From seeing a cow in my mother’s kitchen. And then I thank God that I’m the youngest and that my sisters convinced me I had to pick a different animal to love because now, I have a little cow figurine that is sitting on my kitchen shelf. And years down the road, when my daughter picks it up and looks at the inscription on the bottom, I’ll get to tell her all about her clog wearing, corn cob eating, lovely lady of a great grandma.