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
|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.
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.
women to recognize their potential and LIVE their lives.
Just as she did.
multiplied and spread. In my thinking her tsunami-like waves were interrupted
much too soon.
Rest in peace
(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.