A Pony on a Boat

Some days God talks quietly to you in the kindness of a stranger, in the falling of a yellow leaf. And sometimes he uses a megaphone.

A month ago my sisters and I were sitting around outside and someone asked, “What’s your happy song?” Everyone had one except Judy. She just couldn’t think of a happy song until she heard mine. 

I don’t know why Lyle Lovett’s “If I had a Boat” makes me happy but it always has. It’s been around since the late 80s which were happy times for me. And the mere image of a pony on a boat makes me happy even though (or maybe because) it is a crazy premise.

Through tears that night around that outdoor table, Judy said, “I want the pony song for my happy song”. She was mourning some losses in her life and the pony song was tangible in that moment. Something to make her smile.

Just a few days later, Dad had a stroke, and we sisters got into a calamitous fight but in the ensuing week, Judy said the pony song sustained her.  She became a little obsessive about it and even asked me to draw or paint her a pony on a boat. I told her I might someday but I just couldn’t get a vision. Had anyone even seen a pony on a boat? I even Googled it and got one bad image. 

I was sitting on a beach in Positano, Italy, today, soaking in the sunshine when David abruptly sat up in his lounge chair and shouted, “Is that a pony on a boat?”

It was.

We texted some photos to Judy and that’s when she told us she had put her dog down the day before. It was the humane thing to do. But it rips the heart right out of a breathing human when one has to put an old dog down. Addy was an old dog and she had been suffering.

Judy said the photos of the pony on a boat made her day better. Sometimes God can be as subtle as spotting a pony on a boat; and sometimes He can be as obvious as spotting  a pony on a boat. You just have to be watchful.

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