Memorial to Banana
We lost a treasured family member last week and she will be greatly missed. She taught my family so many things but the most important one was life-long dedication to those we love. She loved us, and saved my Dad’s life. She deserves a memorial.
Even before Banana saved Dad she was a treasured family member. I was telling Mika a day or two after she passed how when she came to us, she was a bit fractious, but once she bonded with us, “she would walked through fire for us and killed a mountain lion on the way.”
She had the biggest, kindest eye and when she saw you coming she would meet you at the gate and follow you wherever you went. She couldn’t say a word but you knew she loved you. The look in her eye, the tilt of her head, the way she worked her ears to hear your every word, the way she would walk up to you and wrap herself around you. You knew she loved you.
She came to my family as a show horse, but became a member of the family by lucky default and I will be forever thankful. She was incredible. One of those once in a lifetime horses that changes every one fortunate enough to have known her.
Her outstanding athletic ability showed every time we did something with her. Her back that was too long for a great athlete, but she didn’t know that. When she was young she was incredibly physical. She could stop like crazy, spin till she made you dizzy, and she was beautiful and such a great mover you couldn’t help but watch her.
She had amazing intelligence and could out smart any cow. But her most endearing feature was the love that emanated from her. You knew “Nana-Ba” loved you and she knew you loved her. There was never a question. It was just felt.
She was one horse you could always trust. She went down the horse-show road with my ex-husband and I and had tremendous success. After the divorce she stayed with Mika and me and was retired to the pasture. But she was the horse you pulled out when you needed one you could count on.
When Mika outgrew her first barrel horse, I had Banana ready to take Mika to the next level in competition and Nana loved it! But a couple weeks before they were able to go to their first barrel race stray dogs ran Banana through a fence. Even after the wounds were healed she was still slightly lame so she was re-retired to the pasture.
A few years later when Mika hit high school she wanted to learn how to cut so Nana came back in from the pasture and taught Mika the basics.
Soon her old soreness showed up again so back to the pasture she went and this time she raised us an adorable little filly, Reva. Who is now Hardy’s number one mount and also “eats cattle”.
Notice her eyes? She never missed anything and would look right at you like she understood every word you said to her. It was as though she looked right into your soul. And the love and caring she showed to every person involved with her taught us all so much. Her dedication to us was incredible. She would put herself between you and a dangerous cow, or a fractious colt. She used her own body as a shield to protect you from any danger.
I mentioned earlier she saved my Dad’s life. She did. When Dad was getting up there in years he still thought he should take the colts to the mountain. The last time he did he had yearlings and was going to ride Banana and lead the colts up the mountain. He had saddled Nana at home and when he got to the mountain, at 75 or 80 years old he forgot to tighten his cinch before getting on. He stepped on, tied a colt off hard and fast to the saddle horn, and started up the dirt road to the top of our summer mountain ground. Not far up the trail the colt decided it didn’t want to lead and pulled back. The loose cinch allowed the saddle to slip and in a flash turn completely under Banana’s belly with Dad hung up in the stirrup. My Step Mom watched in horror as Banana spread all four legs out and straddled Dad. Kay said she stood rock solid against the thrashing, fighting, frightened colt and protected Dad as he extracted himself from the stirrups, dropped to the ground, and finally crawled out from under her without a scratch.
We had always loved her but from that day on she was treasured for the unique individual she was. She was amazing. Not only did she protect Dad, but she protected the other horses in the field with her as well. She was the official coyote chaser. Any coyote that came in the pasture learned very quickly they were not welcome and would not be tolerated. I never saw her kill one, but they certainly didn’t hang around long when she took out after them with her head low to the ground, ears pinned back tight, nostrils flared, eyes squinted, and running straight at them.
Just thinking about her makes me smile and sigh an incredibly peaceful sigh. She had so much wisdom and talent but was so gentle and kind.
As she grew older she didn’t handle the cold well. So a couple of years ago we let her go to Hardy and Mika’s little nephew, Kelby, and live in a warm canyon south of Cortez.
I traveled down the canyon to be with Hardy’s family last Christmas. I stepped out of the truck and hollered, “Nana-Ba,” and she threw up her head, eyes bright and eager, and ears turned right to me, as she loudly nickered her greeting! If anyone ever tells you animals don’t have emotion, don’t believe them. She was as thrilled to see me as I was to see her. That life long love was still as strong as ever.
I’m glad she had a little boy who loved her the last months she was here on earth, but I certainly missed seeing her sweetness everyday. And now my heart will never be whole again. She took a little piece of it with her in her passing. Those of us fortunate enough to have known her, loved her, and she loved us in return, deeply.
I hope I have learned your greatest lesson and gift, Nana. To love, and remember, to the very end.
Good bye Nana. You are still loved, and greatly missed by many.
Go with God and I’ll see you on the other side!
Do you have, or did you have an animal that touched your life? If so, I encourage you to give them their memorial in the Comments section below.
Copyright © 2013 Kristi Ross, All rights reserved.