Still, on Saturday he set up Ro, his biggest and tamer horse, for a surprise. In the days leading up to her 91st birthday, Ona Kitt had told her family she had one thing on her bucket list: horseback riding one more time, and Mrs. Early, a friend of one of her relatives, had Promised Make it happen. The train derailment wasn’t going to change that.
“In all this catastrophe, you’ve got half an hour,” Early said, her voice trailing off as she raised her hands to the roof of her barn, where sunlight was shining through the windows.
Nearly two dozen members of Ms Kitt’s family entered the barn, days after some of them evacuated and began organizing tests to make sure the water and homes were safe. Despite the stress, they hadn’t considered the possibility of missing out on the chance to surprise Aunt Ona and see her on horseback again on her birthday, evoking the years when she ran and rode until she gave birth to twins. Life, they agreed, goes on.
With Mrs. Early and Ro standing quietly in the center, some of the men carefully helped Mrs. Kitt onto the horse. As Ro began to walk in circles, Mrs. Kitt broke into a wide smile, waving her hand above her head like a beauty pageant queen as her family cheered and cheered, filming her on her phones.
Smiling from a chair afterwards, as she watched other relatives take turns jogging around the barn, Ms. Kitt summed up what the trip had meant, as her family forgot about the stress the community was experiencing.
“It felt,” he said, “like being young.”
kitty bennett contributed research.