The Rex Barton Story Chapter 2

Chapter 2
Chapter 2
John Brown Military Academy

Day One

The year was 1949, at age 5.

I found myself crying on my little cot bed, walled on three sides from duplicate cots ten rows deep and ten rows wide. The large white squared, sterile dorm room barracks were full of little boys my age. All of us were fear torn, with salty tasting tears running down our puffy little cheeks.

My tears were very salty, and my sobs seemed so loud because of my fear that everyone could hear me.

*With swollen eyes, we all looked pretty much the same while staring at the uniformed women standing at the head of every third or fourth row.

They were the same in appearance, real stern-looking women with ill-fitting uniforms and hats, and no hearts included. Each woman wore a shoulder patch on their uniform that said, 'John Brown Military Academy, Long Beach, California.'

Each woman present in the dorm room was doing a headcount and each pied piping conduit yelling to a man in uniform standing at the barracks door entrance. Row one counted and all present sir. The cadence continued until each woman finished her headcount.

At the very end of the repetition of commands came a piercing whistle from the man in the doorway. After that, we heard a loud, sharp voice yell, ‘Attention!' Everyone stood up as fast as they could next to our assigned cot.

Each cot was the same. Five feet by three and a half feet, with a wooden partition between each bed and a three-inch lumpy mattress, rolled upon the open springs. Some of the boys had to encourage other little boys on either side to stand up and not be afraid.

As one little boy would start sobbing, it prompted the others to let loose with whales, sobs, and tears. Pretty soon there were more screams than sniffles and the uniformed woman were outnumbered, and commands met nothing. They fell on deaf ears until the uniformed man in the doorway let go with very loud multiple whistles.

He was the Commandant*. That, along with his hoarse-like raffled voice impulses, echoed in thunderclaps throughout t]he room. It seemed like the shock waves reverberated for a very long time, but it was only minutes. The conclusion of the whistles and sharp commands was silence.

Fear gripped every little boy's heart, and it got our attention as intended. The only thing heard amongst the boys was once again a few sniffles and blowing noses.

"Welcome to the John Brown Military Academy," came from the whistle man's voice.

For over three years, this was my bed and my noisy dorm room. I was the third bed down in the first row, and the uniformed woman closest to me, who had a slight mustache below her long pointy nose, yelled my name.

"Number 3, Barton, come with me. Wipe those silly tears from your face boy. We won't have any more of that. Do you understand me? You are not allowed to sniffle or cry. You are a soldier now. Do you understand?"

I nodded my head and wiped the flood of tears from my face.

"Say yes, ma'am, boy."

I looked up in astonishment and fear and replied, "Yes, ma'am."

Her next command was, "Follow me, soldier," as she led me down a long hallway past the man in the doorway.

Once we passed all the bed cots, she led me into a room where another woman in a white uniform and apron handed me a set of sheets, blanket, and pillow. I learned from her that I was in the laundry, and I would return each Saturday for the repetitive routine.

"Turn all linen in and receive a new set. Do you understand boy?"

She also told me that the uniformed women were our nannies or barrack leaders. Oh, yeah, and bed wetting is not an option. If that happens, you will clean them yourself and hang them out for everyone else to see.

Later that day, I heard one of the other boys call them bitches. I did not know what that meant as applied, but it didn't sound like something I could repeat. Everyone else started to laugh at the word. My grandpa sometimes referred to the female hunting dogs as bitches. The women didn't look like dogs. They weren't pretty, but certainly not dogs.

My barrack leader or nanny led me back to my cot and showed me how to make my bed so she could drop a nickel on the blanket, and it would bounce back into her hand. It took a few times of remaking my cot before I got the hang of it.

Tucking in the squared-off corner sheets and blankets was the trick. If the corners were tight, the sides would tighten up, and the blankets could then be stretched over and tucked in so even, that I could bounce a nickel off the bed.

My next trip down the long hallway was to stop at the uniform store. In another large room was a woman dressed in white taking the measurements. I was told to take off all my clothes. I was entirely stripped down to nothing.

For the first time in my young life, I was standing completely naked in front of strangers. I felt humiliated and was embarrassed beyond comprehension! This lady then came up to me and took detailed measurements of my entire body with a cloth tape from head to toe.

She then proceeded to pass me things like boxer shorts, socks, tee-shirts, khaki shirts, and khaki pants. The last two items baffled me. They gave me a hat that was nothing like my cowboy hats or baseball hats. And the boots they gave me were not like my cowboy boots. They were big, black boots that laced up and went over the ankle.

That same monogamous day, they dispensed my class ‘A' Marine looking uniform. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that they gave me a dark blue web belt with a big shiny brass buckle. I was told to keep it shined, along with the boots and shoes, no matter what. Rain or shine, morning or night, they could not get dirty or have any smudge marks on them.

After standing cold, shaking, naked, and humiliated for more than half an hour, I was told to put the fatigue uniform on and go back to my cot. I was age five, yet no longer did I feel like a little boy with loving grandparents who lived on a big ranch where I could roam and play. No, now I was a nobody, a nothing person.

Tears wanted to squirm out of my tightly closed eyes, but I fought them off. I guess I could be one of the knuckleheads who let them paddle me to death if I could not contain my frightful tears.

That is what it felt like, tasted like, and was meant to be. Break the boy, not the spirit. Sadly, they broke both that day. Mentally, I was in shock again and not likely to come out of it any time soon. I was a non-boy and felt isolated and alone.

 

Day Two

The barracks ‘moms' or nannies were there to force-feed strict discipline. They gave the commands, and we either jumped or received the paddle.

Usually, it might take one or two times of five or more smacks on the butt to learn; however, there were always a few hard heads to make it worse on all of us.

The second day was spent on the parade ground learning how to march like a real soldier. I remember it was the end of summer but still a warm day.

Some of the boys fell after a couple of hours. I fainted once, I think from heatstroke, but it didn't matter. We were picked up and told to get back into line.

Still fighting back the tears and the fear of being at the academy, I remembered why I was here. By age five, my mother had married and divorced four times, and I was to blame for all her marital problems. I know that because she always told me so.

When my mother wanted to screw around literally, I was dropped off at my grandparent's ranch in Ventura, California. That was my home, that is where I spent most of my childhood years. I remembered the heated arguments between my mother and grandparents over the last couple of weeks.

It started the day after I had shot Maria. Scared, terrified, sick, and wishing I was dead could not come close to how I felt. There is no way of describing the gut-wrenching terror inside. I could not stop shaking with cold inside, could not sleep, just perpetual nightmares of the event that changed everything in my life.

The memory, the fear, the loud earth-shattering noise were still very fresh in my mind. Nana would yell at grandpa and wonder why he didn't put a lock on that damn shanty door. Grandpa would yell back something else and on and on it would go.

Then my mother would sit there and cry because all she wanted was to send me to military school so she wouldn't have to deal with anything. She said I wasn't learning anything in regular school anyway, so she wanted to send me away.

My Grandparents kept saying no, but my mother won out. Mom still had custody even though she never raised me or paid her parents a single dime for my care.

 

Day Three

My time at John Brown Military Academy was a new start for the rest of my life.  Every single day was a lesson of OJT, ‘On-the-Job-Training.’  After my orientation into bed making, I learned to make it so a nickel could bounce back off the top blanket and into your hand. It was then trying to adjust to the 0600 hours up and shine start to each day. 

Sunday we were allowed to sleep in until 0700 hours.   I would get up, wash my face, brush my teeth, get dressed into the day’s uniform, either fatigues or dress blues.  From there it was outside, and fall into a straight line of ten boys each row and five deep.  Each barracks mom, or nanny, or whatever you wanted to call them would march us to the mess hall for breakfast. 

March was the order of each new day.   At five years old, I learned to march in unison on the parade ground, with forty-nine other little boys.  We marched forward, did an about-face, then continued the other way.  We learned to step right and left and learned new cadence songs every week.  It was a new routine in my life that I accepted as punishment. Punishment for having gone into my grandpa’s shanty, that hot August day, and accidentally shooting Maria. 

 

The Fallout

Ole Mrs. Cassidy, was not a pillar of society, a good baby sitter, or a friend.  She turned out to be a horrible gossip that tried to ruin and ostracize our family and even characterized me as the evilest little boy in the world.  People said terrible things about my grandpa, nana and me; until Nana confronted her one day.

It was not more than a month later that Mrs. Cassidy moved and was not heard of again.  In the meantime, my mother managed to send me away, to Compton, California, where I became a little toy soldier. 

As the months and holidays went by, no visitors were allowed for the first six months. I had heard that grandpa and nana would not come to see me as it was too hurtful and they disagreed so badly with my mother. Meanwhile, mom made it with a couple of new male roommates and continued to blame me every time she broke up with one of them. 

Maybe I met her boyfriends, perhaps not, but you could count on the fact that I was to blame for everything messed up in her life. It is a funny thing, though, I can’t remember any of my reactions to her accusations.  I probably just learned to ignore her rantings.  It became clear to me that I was not her favorite child, even though I was her only one.

Years later, I learned that I reminded her of her first love, my father, Capt. Tom Barton.  But then I was also told that he was a philandering, no-good drunk.  That handle never panned out.  He was a good man, a good doctor who just had an equally dysfunctional upbringing and chased a lot of women around.  Yes, military life and war, in general, caused a lot of men to drink in excess, but that was not what killed him. 

Congestive heart failure was the cause of his death.  He died at age forty-two.  One of my regrets in life was listening to all the crap about him and never having a chance to talk to him in person.   I learned that he loved to play tennis, golf, baseball, and most all sports, as did I.  He was a gambler in life and took chances, as did I.  He loved women, which was funny because I did too, until I found the love of my life.  My birth father was always a ghost in my life; I could only imagine who he was and how we were alike.

My mother, on the other hand, hated him and hated me for being so much like him, yet I never knew him.  He never fought for my custody or weekend visits. I never saw him again after the separation and divorce from my mother. I always wondered why. What if?

Even though military school was hard, the worst part of all was missing my grandpa and nana.  But all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. 

At age four, before the shooting accident, I gave my life to Christ in a little Baptist church in Morro Bay, California.  I had full knowledge of Christ from all the picture storybooks that my nana had given me. They were fascinating and kept me captivated by His power and His love.  That would hold me for the rest of my life, even when I would seemingly run head-on with the devil, later.  But not yet!

 

The Day I Drowned

In the spring and summer months at the academy, it was fun watching the older kids play in real sports like football and baseball.  Sitting in the stadium stands was new, and I had fun cheering for our teams.   Then it happened one hot summer day while playing in the slimy green academy swimming pool.  I was starting to grow and was a little taller than most of the other kids my age. 

The challenge came out, to see who could walk closest to the ledge of division between the shallow end and the deep end of the pool.  The rope was across the division, so we all figured it was safe.  When I said, the pool was a slimy green, it was and thus very dangerous.  No respectable fish would have ever wanted to swim there.  But tell that to a young kid on a hot August afternoon, with nothing better to do. Maybe I could have marched a couple more hours, or visited my school books.  Who knows?

I was leading the charge across the pool in front of my friends next to the rope.  The reason I would win the game so often was that I was much taller than the rest of the kids. I still could not swim and needed to be close to the rope.  

Then suddenly, my left foot slipped on the mossy bottom; I slipped right past the rope and into the deep end of the pool.  Both of my hands were attempting to grab at it, but I missed it. Instead, I slowly drifted down into the deep green waters of the pool below. 

I remember this as if it was yesterday.  My last images were of kids all around the surface above me having fun swimming and jumping into the pool from all sides.  Then my mind began to play tricks with me.  Somehow I managed to think that if a fish, could breathe underwater, so could I.  All I had to do was open my mouth and drink in the bubbles, and it would be ok. 

Gasping for breath I did that, and my eyesight became darker and darker as if I was falling down a deep, deep hole.  A moment later, a very bright light exploded in my face; one more brilliant than any I had ever seen before.   

My mind was at peace. The tare and fear were gone.  Next, I heard sounds of triumphed singing and witnessed columns of winged angelic beings.  My next stop without ever having taken a step placed me in front of a massive figure of a man all dressed in white with a white beard.  His voice spoke my name, yet I never saw his lips move. 

Just like I never walked to Him, I just came to Him as if floating in the air.  He was God, and He told me he loved me!

But then He asked me this question, "Are you ready to enter my world, Heaven?"

At that question, I remember slightly turning my head to the right and looking down, never speaking, but thinking how much my family would miss me and how sad they would be without me. 

 

The Scene at the Pool

In the next instant, I could see my body lying on the ground from twenty feet up in the air. I was floating above and saw a lot of screaming people who were yelling and running in every direction. 

Two ambulance men were trying to revive me by pulling my folded arms up and down, attempting to open my airways and lungs in hopes of reviving me.  My lifeless body laid on the concrete unresponsive and motionless. 

Angelic beings were floating around me, giving me loving smiles. They somehow provided me with the unspoken knowledge that everything was going to be alright.  I was not cold, not particularly rushed or in a hurry about anything, and certainly not afraid.

It felt strange floating above all the helter-skelter below. I was in the best company with my childhood friends that I played with so often when I was all alone. 

There was an older boy named Lyle, who was about thirteen years old. He was my friend, and I would watch him play football sometimes. I saw him as he was hysterically crying and yelling at the ambulance people to keep trying. 

"He's not dead!" Lyle screamed, "He's not dead!"

As I watched from above, they were trying to convince Lyle that I was already dead as they began to cover me with a sheet. I learned much later that the two medics had been working to revive me for over twenty minutes. 

Lyle would not accept their decision. He finally broke free of them and ran over to my body. He began to pound his fist into my chest, releasing all his pain and anguish. 

Suddenly, I spat up some water and struggled to take in my first deep breath.  Everyone was shocked and astonished! They wondered how I suddenly came back. I was trying to breathe, vomit, and cry all at the same time. How could I have come back to life? Thanks to Lyle, I did.

They had just pronounced me dead.  Thinking to myself, I wondered how I could be here when I was just up there in the sky with my angel friends.   Through my tears and not remembering it all, I felt a sense of great sadness for my family while I was looking back down toward the earth; and now here I was laying on the cold, wet cement in pain.  My lungs hurt, my chest hurt, and I was alive. 

My friends, the angelic beings that were with me, were now gone.   Yes, I was back.  Yes, I lived.  But this meant I was in for yet another significant change coming to my life.   ‘What If’?

I was approximately age seven when I drowned.   Later on that day, Lyle told me that he was the one who had pulled me from the deep end of the pool.  A lot of the kids were scared when they realized something was very wrong. They were yelling at anyone who would listen, screaming to them that I was underwater. 

They thought I was playing when, in fact, I was silently drifting off into heaven going the wrong way. At some point, I began to wonder where Heaven was. By this point, I figured that Heaven was all around me, it was everywhere.  Just beyond a portal or dimension that was unseen by human eyes. 

Heaven has no bounds, especially our mortal bodies, rules, and things; it was vast, brighter, and more impactful than anything I could ever imagine.  God is heaven, and the veil over our eyes is the only thing keeping us from seeing Him.   The vail I am talking about first is the sin that we are all born into and then life itself.  We can’t have it both ways. 

I knew one day I would return to my real home and my only real Father.   Until then, I had to find a way to cope with the sadness of having met God, experienced His awesome love and hearing for myself the Heavenly Choir of Angeles.  God was the Father I always wanted and needed so much.  His love had no limits and was all-encompassing. 

No one would ever understand as I did, that God is real and life after death is going to be everyone’s destiny, no matter what.   The choice of eternity would be ours to choose. Heaven or Hell?  Both are Eternal.  That was hard to understand until I got older and made God's Word my life’s study and painted his words in my heart.    

 

The End of Military School

The day I drowned, the military school commander, the whistle man Col. Meyers, sent me home on a bus to my mother who was still living in Compton.  The academy and my mother told me never to speak of the incident again.  Therefore, I never drowned, never saw or talked with God, and had to forget about all of it.  I had to answer that I understood, and I would never repeat what happened this day. I got the message.

As quickly as I was dropped off at age five to the academy, the military school removed me after the accident. Everything that I had was immediately taken away as if I had never existed.  

My mother hadn't changed.  She immediately got angry at me as if I had intended to disrupt her life again and the new man she was living with, stepfather number, well, I can’t remember. 

He too left her, and again I was to blame. Once again, mom sent me back to the ranch to live with grandpa and nana.  Only this time, I was a little soldier boy with a different set of habits, mannerisms, and work ethics that held the line.

Getting sick was still a common thing. No one could figure out what was wrong with me.  My grandparents took me to many, many doctors, and some said it was my tonsils and others just shrugged their shoulders and told nana that it was all part of my having grown so fast so young.   One doctor said it was early Polio. 

As a result of growing too fast or hormones, I just kept asking for and receiving my vomit bowl to quickly throw-up.   Whatever it was that kept me sick all the time, well, it stayed with me for several more years.  I had a lot of playtime from my bedroom or the living room, but the illnesses did subside, eventually.  Whatever it was is still a mystery. 

Another mystery was having to wear specially made braces for my legs.  It was like wearing casts on each leg, only most nights they were taken off.  I guess my growth spurts were causing my legs to bend and my feet to turn in. 

By the time I was eight years old with John Brown Military Academy behind me, I was now seriously helping grandpa and nana out on the ranch.

 

Working on the Ranch

I learned how to drive a tractor by eight and a half and furrow or till the land.  My job was to keep the soil loose, which helped the walnut trees absorb water better.  I learned to climb a ten-foot three-point plant ladder with a gunnysack and fill it with walnuts at harvest time.   It was hard work but very rewarding in many ways. 

I always needed help moving the ten-foot wooden three-point ladder, and I needed help carrying my eight-foot long gunny sack over to the waiting trucks.  Once emptied, it was moving the ladder and climb back-up and fill the bag once again.   We repeated this all day long, taking small breaks for water and lunches. 

My little friend Maria and her family had moved on up to Central California where more jobs were.  The current workers never heard of the accident; thus, I was not someone to be feared or shamed.  I got along with everyone.  I even learned to converse with the workers and laugh at their silly jokes. 

One of my most treasured memories working with grandpa, was finally, being old enough to paint that old wooden fence that separated nightmares from reality. The hobos didn’t make it down our way so much anymore, and I didn’t mind keeping up with the fence work.  It was a time in my young life to learn skills that would last me a lifetime.  My grandpa taught me many things like basic carpentry, painting, hunting, auto mechanics, and more.  It was also a time to learn respect for people and animals alike.

Grandpa was still hunting every night of the week, and most weeks he would bring home baby animals of every kind.  It was not the circle of life kind of stuff, but instead, eager hunting dogs and trigger fingers taking down more than just raccoons.  Unfortunate for the babies, but fortunate for me. I learned how to feed and nurse baby animals long enough to release them back into the wild, but only when they were completely ready.   

Feeding baby fawns, mountain lion cubs, bear cubs, raccoons, skunks, owls, hawks, ducks, geese, dogs, and cats were among many of my charges.  To me, they were all my pets.  I also learned that getting too close to them was a mistake.  Going so far as to call a mountain lion cub with long claws a pet was a mistake. 

To have a skunk as a pet that was not de-skunked was a big mistake as well.  I must say I loved caring for such a variety of animals.  So much so, that I thought rather than wanting to be a cowboy or doctor like my real father, I wanted to be a veterinarian.  That was a very noble dream, crushed by a veterinarian doctor in my mid-high school years. 

Doctor Knoop, who took care of my quarter horse, Sheila, and her offspring whom I had bred to one of Audrey Godfrey’s (actor) Spanish chestnut Arabian studs, was on call.  Sheila's pregnancy was routine, but not the delivery. The unfortunate thing was that a neighborhood dog that kept getting loose attacked the little chestnut colt with the golden mane. 

I had named Sheila’s colt Chalk-taw, after an Indian tribe back east, where my grandmother grew up.  The dog, on his first attack, while I was at school, nearly ripped out the colt’s right rear flank muscle.  Doctor Knoop said he would probably never walk without a limp and the scarring would make it impossible for Chalk-taw to show very well in the judge’s arenas.

My heart broke, and I knew more was coming. I had heard Sam talking with Mom about selling both horses.  It was my nana that bought and paid for everything, but Sam was a cruel and spiteful man. 

He wanted the power, and in his sick mind, that meant to control and to have the money.  Having to accept that my stepfather number (8) decided it was best, he made the arrangements and sold Sheila and her colt Chalk-taw, to Doctor Knoop.  

My stepfather #8, in one quick deal, rid himself of me and the constant monthly debt, even though my grandmother had paid for everything. He never paid a dime, but he resented my grandmother and me so much that he just wanted us gone.         

It wasn’t too long after that, Doctor Knoop then sold the mare and colt to a school for the mentally challenged children, in Goleta.  I would not have a clue at that moment, but something good came out of the sale of both my horses to the handicap school.

One of the kids at the school fell in love with Chalk-taw and wanted to take him and Sheila home with him when he graduated.  He just happened to live on a famous quarter horse ranch in Texas, The King’s Ranch.   Not long after arriving there, Chalk-taw was well exercised, trained by the best in the business and he earned his Quarter Horse registry and went on to be a king in his own right. 

Chalk-taw studded for many years and made a lot of famous Quarter Horse owners very happy.  His coloring and confirmation improved, so I guess my original pick for breeding was a good one.  Who knows what would have happened had I been able to keep both my horses.  ‘What If’?

In the first week of my working for Doctor Knoop, cleaning out the cages and the operating rooms, a black German Sheppard came into the office.  He was led into the office by his owner, a young girl, who said a car had hit her dog. 

The Sheppard had a two-inch cut over his left eye, but it was not bleeding too much.  She had put ice over the wound, which slowed the bleeding down.  Doctor Knoop asked me to put the Sheppard into a run outback.  I looked at him very strangely and asked him, are you sure?  Disturbed by my questioning, he repeated the order. 

Put the Sheppard in a run outback.  I did as he said, still not thinking this was the right thing to do.   After all, I had cared for hundreds of animals and never once made any one of them that were hurt run.   Running a hurt animal was just cruel, but I did what the good doctor told me to do.

I made quick friends with the dog and took him down the stairs and started to run him back and forth between the row of dog cages.  The Sheppard kept looking up at me, panting hard, so I thought it was a good idea to stop and give him a little water.  

At that moment Doctor Knoop came out and asked why I was giving the dog water and why I was having trouble putting the dog in the run.   I told him that I didn’t have any problem running him and at that moment I was fired. 

That was the first time someone fired me.  No one ever told me, least of all Doctor Knoop, that a run was, in fact, a cage.  My honest mistake, but embarrassingly so.   I never used Doctor Knoop as a work reference, not ever.  The Sheppard was fine after a few stitches and probably regretted meeting me after I gave him a headache more so than the injury itself.  I hope he forgave me for being stupid and ignorant.

That was the end of any thought of ever becoming a veterinarian.  I didn’t think I would be a medical doctor either after that experience.  Who knows what kind of Frankenstein I would have created or which people would have ended up in a dog run instead of a bed.  Maybe looking into the legal world and becoming a defender of justice would be better.  ‘What If,’ was my next thought? 

Then I got to thinking.  Why was I demeaning myself by calling myself stupid, the same way my step-father did.  That was his daily chant, calling me stupid after doing this or that.  I could never do anything good enough or get high enough grades ever to satisfy him.  

He never got above a ‘C’ ever.  What lurked around his corner of life is a story in itself.   I could say a lot of things about him, and none of them good.  He was a real son-of-a-bitch!  There, I said it anyway, but that is still not the worst of it.

Unfortunately, there is a forever story to tell about Sam and that I shall get into next. Shortly after my mother married Sam, he asked her if he could adopt me.  I would never understand why, but he had a reason that none of us would ever find out until I grew up. 

Mom told him she would not have any more children.  She gave her permission for the adoption.  I remember being asked by a judge when I was twelve years old if that was ok with me.  Not having much to say about it, I agreed. 

My last name was changed.  Capt. Tom Barton, my birth father, became more of a ghost from another lifetime.  Childhood was over as were the good ole days on my grandparent’s ranch. 

Grandpa ended up having a massive heart attack at age sixty after the loss of my uncle, Rex Allen.  My dear uncle was blown-up in a freak accident in the rock yard when the crane he was working on blew up. Over seventy percent of his body burned.  He lived for four days in a hospital in sheer agony until he died. 

My nana could never get over the loss of her only son, until one day she decided I could be his replacement.  Not for real or in any sick way, it was more of an emotional decision for her. It would be better than dying, which nana wanted to do, after losing her son.    

Grandpa had several more heart attacks and ended up coming to live with mom and me.  My mother and I became his caregiver.  After a blood clot that turned into gangrene, it caused him to lose his left leg.   He was now paralyzed, unable to move his right side, and needed full-time care.  

As difficult as it was, I never regretted helping to take care of my grandpa.    He took care of me for many years, and if it weren’t for him, I would have never even had a home.  My nana and grandpa’s values of right and wrong rubbed off on me, somehow.   I learned how to work hard and never be afraid of it. 

I learned responsibility and to love all of God’s Creatures, great and small.   Sam, on the other hand, never entered the bedroom or helped in any way with grandpa’s care, even though it was my grandpa and nana's money he was spending. 

I didn’t share this yet, but besides my aunt Arden’s horse Sonny which I inherited, later on, grandpa (her father) allowed her to take on an elephant.  She brought Borneo home one day.  Borneo was a retired circus elephant that was going to be put down.  He just got old, and wouldn’t learn new tricks, so the circus got tired of caring for him any longer. 

It was in all the newspapers one year, so Arden and my grandpa fixed a place for him out back next to her horse Sonny’s corral.    As you can imagine, it was a vast enclosure, and besides a few rides, Borneo had all he needed.   Eventually, grandpa found a larger home for Borneo in a retired animal sanctuary in the valley.  

Arden and I hated to see him go, but he was in good hands.  We took time out during the weekend to visit him and be with Borneo until he passed away naturally a couple of peaceful years later.   What a great pet he was.  Great and small alike, I said.  How many kids were given the opportunity as I had?

Another thing I learned from grandpa was in every life comes a little rain, but God always blows the clouds away.  Trust in Him for he will never change.   Trust in the one true God.

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