Posted by: suek2001 | May 4, 2013

The strange rivers of horses, singers, relatives and movies…

John Stewart once wrote a song called “Strange Rivers”….and the song was about destiny and how things are woven that we cannot see….at least that was my bare-bones impression of the song…Other fans may disagree…

May 3rd, 2008 is one of those days will forever be one of those days….Now, nothing earth-shattering happened on that day….although sadness did occur but it was a weird, confluence of events that I believe John Stewart would have loved…and someone I loved would have adored.

May 3rd, 2008 was a bright sunny Saturday…Springlike….and on some level, I recall Duluth, being grey and depressing that week..My friend drove me down to the Twin Cities the night before and I could tell the change in the air temp and even the seasons…..It felt like Spring…and to see the sun out on that bright Saturday morning…and even see some birds flying gave me a sliver of joy on sad day….My Aunt had passed away earlier in the week…and her memorial service was that day…..

I had planned the music to play and one of the songs was Let the Big Horse Run by John Stewart….with it’s homage to Secretariat and also to the Kentucky Derby, it was one of my Aunt’s favorite songs of all time. It also reminded me that it was indeed “Derby Day”….

As I listened through endless eulogies commending my Aunt for being a great lover of horses, a great person to go on day trips with and a fantastic customer at Von Mar, I thought of a group of friends that were gathering miles away from me in California…to honor John Stewart….Stewart had passed on earlier in the year and while a moving, private ceremony had taken place at that time, a public memorial was needed for fans and friends to say goodbye….and what better day to say goodbye than on “Derby Day”….John wrote so often of the love and beauty and mythology of horses..and used them as allegories for historical and personal events….and of course in “Let the Big Horse Run”…

So, it was fitting that two people who made a difference to me and to others, would get their send off on “Derby Day”…..

After the service for my Aunt, we all went back to her house and watched the Kentucky Derby unfold…and cheered on the horse that she wanted to win…(Eight Belles came in second and was later euthanized-we all wept for that)….Later in the evening, as I sat talking with my Uncle, and his family, they all wanted to see a movie to let off some steam after the emotional roller coaster of the day…..Someone asked my Uncle if he has seen some sci-fi movie and my Uncle gave a reply that still rings with me to this day, “If it wasn’t a chick-flick, I haven’t seen it in 15 years..remember, I’ve been married”…..That seemed like a strange thing but it was also the start of my Uncle trying to retrain his brain to think on his own….

So, we all decided to see “Iron Man”..It debuted that weekend…and while I really just wanted to find a nice quiet spot to reflect on the symbolism of that day, I decided to join the group….and I am glad I did…

Sitting in the back of the theater watching Robert Downey Jr, try to save the world and cracking wise was just the perfect way to end that day. It was was cathartic and it gave me something to cheer for….and it gave my Uncle and me the chance to bond which was new for us….

The next day, My Uncle agreed that he needed to get out of town and he decided to drive me back to Duluth..We talked a bit and shared some laughs and advice….but also shared the silence of realizing what we were saying goodbye to….We drove back to Duluth in my Aunt’s SUV….and her spirit still lingered in that car…..and one of the things I did that sticks with me is eject the CD that was in the player….My Uncle wasn’t really in the mood for music..he wanted to listen to the Twins Game…I just had to see what disc was in my Aunt’s CD player…..and when I saw what it was, I cried….John Stewart’s “Cannons/Wingless Angels”..the last song on that disc is “Let the Big Horse Run”…and that was the last song she played before she entered that hospital many months before….I felt her smile…

There are strange rivers indeed…..

For those who want to relive the Kentucky Derby of ’08

For those who want to experience one of the greatest songs about a horse:

..and finally, the song “Strange Rivers”……



  1. I’m sorry for your loss, Sue. *HUGS*

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