Hold Them Closer

Four days ago I received a call from a fellow horsewoman.  I met Kate years ago when I bought a horse from her, a dog (Sadie) from her sister, and attended one of her horsemanship clinics. Kate didn’t call to socialize, although in normal circumstances, she is a riot to talk to. We weren’t close, but beyond the above, we did share one very good friend: Jim Lubig.

Jim had been Kate’s farrier for twenty years and mine for seventeen. He was the first man to put a hand on every foal born on this farm. When he first started working on my horses, he had a loud voice and would address the horses in same. But as we slowly crossed the line of a client/farrier relationship into friendship, that changed. He taught me a lot about hoof trimming (he actually supplied me with all of my shoeing tools) and he watched how I treated my horses. His voice suddenly became less boisterous and he had more patience with them.

Kate called to tell me that Jim had had a massive heart attack. His doctors put him in a medically induced coma to prevent further damage to his heart. The news was a shock of course. He’d appeared healthy and full of energy when I’d last saw him.

Over the years, we exchanged Christmas cards, recipes, wild game. On days he was scheduled to do my horses, he more often than not would bring me something he’d cooked up and I’d bring him a mug of coffee to drink in between trimming hooves. He’d get out of his truck and say, “Hi, kiddo!” We used to laugh about how when he was here, it was more therapy for us and he just worked on my horses for something to do while we laughed and talked. He always signed his receipts, “Jim, farrier dude.” I always wrote “client/therapist” on the check memo line.

Today…today Kate called me again….this time to tell me Jim had passed away this morning. We both cried while holding the phones to our ears. We had not only lost an excellent farrier, but a helluva friend.

What the fuck, Jim! You didn’t even give us a chance to say goodbye. If I’d known you weren’t going to be here today for your scheduled appointment, I would’ve given you a hug six weeks ago when you put me on your schedule.

When I ended the call with Kate, I wiped my tears, gathered the dogs and went for a walk in the fields. I realized there was so much I didn’t know about my friend. I never met Pam, his partner of almost twenty years. I’d never been to his house, or invited him for dinner here. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because we always had that scheduled appointment when he’d always show up on time and get me laughing straight away.

Jim taught me a couple of very valuable lessons with his passing. Hold your friends closer and be a better friend and partner. I just wish he hadn’t left this world before I showed him that myself.

Giant Swallowtail-4330


About laurie salzler

novelist, outdoor enthusiast, animal lover, dog trainer
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7 Responses to Hold Them Closer

  1. I am sorry for your loss.

    Stunning butterfly photo

  2. Jai (Judi) New says:

    So sad you didn’t get to say goodbye, but hang on to the fact that he was part of your life!

  3. darsword says:

    So sorry. Lovely butterfly!

  4. Lori Janos says:

    Ah Laurie, that’s “the rub” so to speak, yes? Losing Jim is what has taught you those life lessons, which you must have needed. As for showing Jim the level of your friendship, it sounds like that was shown every time the two of you spent time together. I am deeply sorry for your loss.


  5. Maren Roush says:

    I was just googling Jim’s name to see when the visitation and funeral will be, and came across your lovely blog entry. I, too, was shocked to hear first of his heart attack and later of his death. He always seemed so alive, so vibrant. I was hoping that he would have a long retirement, full of fun and family. So very sad. I wish his family and friends the very best.

  6. The thing about people who like people is they know. Feelings fill the gap that words fail to say. It’s the laughter you shared that said his hellos and good-bye. That’s all you really needed to know – and that’s what you held onto of his heart. What a gift, yes? My sympathies for your loss.

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