Horses and Birds – An Update From Clay

November 23, 2008

Saturday afternoon Mariah and I drove together from Richmond to Washington to see a performance of the Vienna-based legendary Lipizzaner Stallions.  At the Patriot Center we met friends and family to enjoy watching these magnificent creatures.  (Non-horsey readers: the Lipizzaners are the famous “dancing” white stallions who perform highly skilled and specialized dressage, in a tradition dating back 400 years.)

This was truly a magical performance by the white stallions, whose “dance moves” are almost entirely natural to them, but they are trained to refinement and to the cues of their riders to selections of Baroque-era classical music.  The term “dressage” refers to the harmony between the rider and horse, much like the ancient myth of the dragon and dragon-rider. I personally voted that we go to a dragon-show today, but unfortunately someone already purchased horse-tickets. 🙂

An entire week has passed that I have been with Mariah and selfishly kept her stories to myself.  Here is the synopsis:

After a rocky Monday morning (hey, who doesn’t have rocky Monday’s except for degenerate musicians like me who sleep through them), Mariah had a consistent and diligent work week.  Extremely successful.  At her last physical therapy she took two laps around the indoor block downstairs and on lap #2 she all but walked by herself.  She has a tendency to lean to the left due to weakness in her right leg and foot, but with encouragement from her beloved physical therapist, Alan, she trusted her leg and walked the whole second time with minimal balancing assistance.  Watching her walk from behind her gait looked so natural I was moved to tears.

Last night we stuffed ourselves silly at Carrabbas Italian restaurant and then cruised the mall to pick up a book at Barnes and Noble that had been recommended by a therapist earlier in the day. A story of inspiration and unconditional love between a damaged baby barn owl and a young woman, “Wesley the Barn Owl” describes a relationship that lasts two decades and spans heartfelt emotions of trust, loyalty, and love that are usually assumed only between humans.  Mariah really loves this stuff.  Oh yeah, apparently if a barn owl ever drops a mouse in your mouth it means he loves you.  Do not be offended.

Speaking of owls, Mariah presented her “Owl” PowerPoint report for a second time to several therapists and me.  Her presentation skills were outstanding, and we all learned more about owls in fifteen minutes than we ever had before.  I did not know, for instance, that the Great Horned Owl has been known to carry off small cats and dogs from residential backyards.

We have also had lots of laughs, as usual.  Mariah and I learned together in recreational therapy game playing that “peladophobia” is the fear of bald people.  We spent the rest of the day fearing the team leaders with hair-loss issues.  Haha!  We know how to goof off, if nothing else.

Mariah and I will spend Thanksgiving at the Fisher house where I stay on the hospital grounds with several patients, family members and guests, and of course great grub, courtesy of the amazing “blue-star” moms.

If you haven’t already, please leave Mariah a Thanksgiving message, either on the website here where I will check and relay to her, or via snail-mail, or especially in your prayers and in your hearts.  We love to know and feel that you are thinking of us, and we wish all our friends and family out there a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Love and Light,


10 Responses to “Horses and Birds – An Update From Clay”

  1. Grandma said

    Sounds like fun, fun, fun. I KNOW it isn’t just fun, but I sure do respect your ability to stick to it. You two get along very well. Mariah, when you come down, you’ll have to show us your owl presentation, sounds intersting and informative. Last week was a good one for learning. I read an article about physiatry, the correlation between barefeet and the balance point in the brain and an article demonstrating macroeconomics. My, all that book learning tired me out. Guess I’ll lay off this week.
    We’ll miss you both on thanksgiving but know that you will be in our thoughts many times. Some day we’ll have another family get together. Hallelujah!!! Love you Grandma

  2. LTC Atchison said

    Sounds great Clay.
    My father is here visiting for Thanksgiving my oldest gets in from West Point tomorrow night.
    Turkey obviously on Thursday.
    Firday drive to NYC.
    Saturday William runs in the Nike Foot Locker invitational race in NYC.
    Back home, read all 1450 pages of personnel records will enter into spread sheet tomorrow.
    Hope to come see Mariah the second week of December if I haven’t lost my mind by then.
    Give a hug and kiss for me and take care.
    LTC A

  3. Elizabeth said

    Hi Mariah!
    I have been thinking of you more than ever. I’m hanging out in a hospital again, though this one is not as cool as Walter Reed. It’s a long story and not a fun one, but you have definitely been on my mind. I’m glad to see that Clay will be there to celebrate with you. I hope I still get to see my brothers, but I’m not sure yet. It seems that my Thanksgiving dinner is most likely to come from a vending machine…good thing I like junk food more than you do 🙂
    Have a wonderful holiday!
    Much love,

  4. Dana Moser said

    I apologize if this does not get to Mariah, as I am “technology challenged.” I am a fellow recruiter who got to know Mariah through SFC Kevin Borth. I have been following her progress through this website, which I think has been a wonderful way to highlight all of her achievements in this difficult journey. I wanted to let her know that I will be travelling to Virginia the second week of December and would love to come see her at the VA. I understand that she will be discharged on the 10th of December, and just want to know what would be a good day and time to see her before she leaves Richmond. I will be travelling from Norfolk when I come. If someone can email or call me back, I would appreciate it. My email is and my phone number is (413) 221-4656. I am so glad that she has a loving family to share Thanksgiving with, and to just be there for her through this experience. My prayers and blessings are always with her!


  5. John Moore said

    Hi Mariah,

    Happy thanksgiving to you and your family! I’m a friend of your dad and a big fan of yours, keep up the good work!!


  6. Karin Hamilton said

    Hey Mariah,
    Happy Thanksgiving!!! I’ve been bad about sending mail (since they invented email, I just don’t seem to get around to snail-mail), but I’ve been checking the website to keep up with your progress. All of us in Korea wish you the best and are impressed, proud, and motivated by your determination and success. Enjoy the turkey and the tryptophan nap ;).

  7. Karin Hamilton said

    PS. What’s your favorite sports team, Mariah?

  8. Molly said

    Happy Thanksgiving Mariah!

    I am so glad that you got to see the Lippizaner Horses. I have always wanted to do that and can’t wait for you to tell me all about it. I’m also so thankful that you are recovering so quickly and will be moving up to DC for Christmas (so I heard from LTC Atchison).

    I’m currently at home with my parents in New Jersey. Emily, Jack, and Augie are here too and we took a nice long walk up the mountains yesterday before engorging ourselves with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie. I hope you were able to also get in a nice bit of turkey.

    Seeing the picture of you giving your barn owl presentation reminded me of when you gave your amazing botulism talk at FHP in Kentucky. And I got the prebrief in your room on your laptop!

    Well, today I’m going to just sit around and watch tv, enjoying a couple days off before heading back to studying for finals next week. Augie heads to Iraq this next Wednesday/Thursday for a year so that will be hard for us but it will be his last time. He will either rebranch as a latin american foreign area officer or get out for good.

    Again, I’m thinking about you a lot and am so proud of how much you have accomplished so far.
    Love you!

  9. SFC Kevin Borth said

    Hi Guys, its Kevin Borth, Dana Moser wants to come visit next week. would that be ok? Please let us know. My prayers and thoughts are with you everyday! I am proud of you

  10. Maureen and Rich said

    Dear Mariah,
    Hope your Thanksgiving was great. We can’t wait to see you again. On Thanksgiving, Suzanna and Chai and Zoe came over to partake of turkey and trimmings. Chai is shameless about giving you her butt to scratch. She found lots of willing scratchers here. Now Zoe is the one who loves to have her ears knurdled. They are both anxiously awaiting your release.
    You are an inspiration to us all.
    Everyone at Goddard asks about your recovery.
    Maureen and Rich

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