A few weeks ago I was searching the internet for an unrelated item when I stumbled across this obituary of my Uncle Corky. I was so taken aback; I didn't even know that he had been sick. He had been gone for a year and nobody had even bothered to call me to let me know.
I kind of tucked the knowledge away because I couldn't really work out my feelings about it all. Then, this evening I was looking at a digi-challenge posted on one of my favorite blogs. The challenge was to scrap a page about something you always wanted as a child but never received. As soon as I read that I knew I had an answer to some of the things I had been thinking about since reading about Corky's death. Isn't it funny how you can carry something around in your head without even realizing it and then all of a sudden a little bit of it starts to make sense? Who would have thought working on a scrapbook challenge would be the key?
My mom married and had me as a teenager. The marriage didn't last. My dad was part of a famous family of animal trainers, stuntmen and western movie ranch hands. My granddad owned a ranch in Newhall, California where many of the serial Westerns of the '40's & '50's were filmed. My granddad trained and boarded Roy Roger's horse "Trigger." My uncle trained the horse used in the movie, "The Black Stallion." My dad was a stuntman and later became a second unit direct for "ET" and the Indiana Jones series.
My relationship with my dad was never something that was stable or could be counted on. He would flit in and out of my life over the years whenever curiosity or guilt got the better of him. Our relationship was tenuous and whenever he would "drop back in" it was always disruptive. Still, in a way I can't fully explain I longed to be connected; not just to him but also to what I perceived of as the romance of "my other family."
It wasn't so much the glamor of the movie industry that captured my imagination. No, it was those remembered visits I got to take to my granddad’s ranch that fueled my dreams. There on his ranch were stables filled with beautiful palomino ponies. In the fields were row upon row of antique carts, Conestoga wagons and chariots. The left-over’s from the hundreds of movies and television shows that had been filmed on the property. Beyond the flat fields were rolling hills; the hills I would ride with my dad as he would tell me about himself and his family and a heritage that I longed to be a part.
Sadly circumstances never really allowed me to be "part" of my "other" family. Over the years my dad's interest in me seemed to, I don't know, just drift away. I haven't heard from him in more than eighteen years. I know that he is still working in the film industry because every once in a while I will see his name as the credits roll by in one movie or another.
My granddad passed away in 1992. I just recently learned that my uncle passed away last year. I stumbled across an obituary of my uncle which read, in part, "Buford “Corky” Randall, the beloved Hollywood horse trainer who made his name on the timeless 1979 film, The Black Stallion, passed away on April 20, 2009. We look back at the man who set the standard for horse training while continuing a family legacy in this remembrance by journalist and author Elizabeth Kaye McCall." I read through this article with such a sense of sadness. Not just at the loss of an uncle but also at the realization that I was not part of the "family legacy" about which the article spoke.
I never did get that horse that I longed for as a girl, nor did I ever get a chance to establish a lasting connection with my father's family. Still I think there must be something of them, "in my blood." My daydreams are still ones of riding out in the country astride a beautiful palomino. Thankfully, I no longer have to wonder if the people “riding alongside me" truly do love me as I did when I was a girl with my dad. I am well and truly loved by God, my husband and my sons and I don't need to own a horse as proof of that!
Kit Credits: Lorie Davison's "Pioneer Story"