How far will your ripple go?
We have all, at some time, tossed a pebble into water and watched ripples spread. It can be mesmerizing—staring at the concentric ridges of water; circles within circles, widening, growing away from their birthing center. Until something interrupts a wavelet. A floating leaf, a leaping fish, a shoreline.
On February 5, I received a small envelope in the mail. The kind that contains a thank you card or invitation. Two 32-cent stamps depicting a ballet dancer squeezed across the top right. I glanced at the return address—New Mexico—and felt a surge of anticipation. A couple of weeks earlier I had sent my book, “Journeys: Finding Joy on Horseback,” to long (horseback) rider and author Bernice Ende. In addition to her horseback riding adventures, Bernice had a background of instructing ballet.
|Bernice Ende signs one of her |
books while visiting the offices
of RAMM Horse Fencing & Stalls
I returned to the house before opening the envelope, slightly delaying the gratification of reading a note from Bernice. Just before I slid my finger under the envelope flap I noticed the return address was a pre-printed label that bore her sister’s name. At first I thought nothing of that, since when I last had email correspondence with Bernice she told me to mail my book to her sister’s since she wasn’t sure where she would be.
But as the glue on the paper gave way I hesitated as a strong feeling of foreboding descended. My hands shook as I plucked the flower-bedecked card out. I opened it and my eye caught on the words, “I am so sorry to tell you…”
I blinked. Several times I reread, “I am so sorry to tell you that Bernice died on October third.”
Any death of a loved, admired person can be a shock. To believe them alive, only to find out they died months earlier is shattering.
I met Bernice in April, 2019, when she was scheduled to speak at a venue near Toledo, Ohio. I had read her book, “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback,” and couldn’t pass up an opportunity to meet this amazing woman who had ridden a total of nearly 30,000 miles in the past 15 years. I was so excited I somehow arrived a day early.
As I drove the final miles, I received a message from the event coordinator, Debbie Disbrow, president and CEO of RAMM Horse Fencing & Stalls. She was confirming attendance for the following evening. I called Debbie and she said, yes, the event was to be the next evening. Debbie apologized (unnecessarily, for it was my misunderstanding) and asked if I wanted to join her on the event day to spend time with her and Bernice.
|Bernice Ende, left, and Debbie Disbrow view horses |
at the offices of RAMM Horse Fencing & Stalls in 2019.
Wow! You can guess my answer to that. I had planned to “camp out” in my van, but instead found a motel room for two nights and the next day drove to Debbie’s office. She graciously introduced me to her entire (huge) staff, that includes many family members. Then we all sat around anxiously awaiting Bernice.
The only disappointment for me the next few hours was that Bernice had left her two horses in Michigan instead of hauling them to Ohio for the short visit. Bernice sat next to me at lunch at the RAMM offices. I remember little of conversation. I just wanted to soak in her presence. When she did speak, it was often to encourage women around us to enjoy their “long ride,” whatever that might be. Motherhood, career, relationships.
Bernice wanted women to recognize their potential and LIVE their lives.
Just as she did.
Bernice’s ripple multiplied and spread. In my thinking her tsunami-like waves were interrupted much too soon.
Rest in peace Bernice.
(Note: you can read more about Bernice and her journeys on her website and blog, but only for a limited time. In accordance with her wishes, the sites will be taken down. endeofthetrail.com)
|Bernice, right, prepares for a presentation about |
her book. In the screen image, she is posing with
one of her Fjord horses, with her dog, Claire,
perched on her seat atop the pack.