In the fall of of 2014, I made a new friend. Henry Robinson had a beautiful smile and happy presence. Many times I would see him in his wheelchair outside taking in the last of the sun rays before the warmth of the sun set. He loved being outdoors. This may be one of the reasons I was drawn to him. I worship the sun also, the gift of life.
Henry would come over from Wesley Nursing Home and I would see him In the Embury Cafe having a cup of coffee. It wasn’t long before I gravetated towards him because he had a smile that drew you in. Henry loved horses and he enjoyed talking about them. I didn’t have any previous knowledgeable with horses, outside of my love affair with Secretariat. Slowly but surely, I started to learn and become excited about one horse in particular. His name is American Pharoah. One day Henry needed to see the post line ups because we were going to bet on the Kentucky Derby. I said, “Don’t worry. I will take the bus downtown and pickup the Racing Form at Stewarts.” I brought the form back and gave it to my friend. Later that day or the next he told me how the race was going to line up. I was ready to place my bet. Trouble is, I didn’t know how.
My cousin Jimmy and his wife Stephanie were taking me to dinner that evening. I asked Jimmy if he could take me over to the Racino and Race Track to bet on the race. I was embarressed that I didn’t know how. Jimmy took me up to the window and told the attendant that this was my first time betting at 70 years old. Both of them got a kick out of that. Well, my horse naturally won. It was a thrill. How many of them do we get at this age?
Next there the the Preakness Race and Henry and I had some lively discussions on how to play this race. Once again we both won. I was so excited that I had to call him up and let him know how grateful I was. He literally found it fun to see my enthusiasm. Oh what a happy soul he was.
Then the Triple Crown was next. By this time Henry was in intensive care. I called the hospital to keep abreast of him. In awhile he rebounded and was given a room. Then I could talk to him on the phone. Before the Triple Crown I had to go to Massachsetts. I was cut-off from communicating with Henry because he was not well. I went ahead and placed a bet via the computer using Off Track Betting. Again I didn’t know what I was doing but, I was going to give it a shot and bet on American Pharoah because this was the horse that Henry had faith in. American Pharoah didn’t let us down. He won the Triple Crown.
Then a call came in, a family member was seriously ill, I had to leave Massachusetts and get back home. As soon as I got back I went over to Wesley Nursing Home to visit Henry. He was in his room. I knew he was ill because he was still in bed. I thanked him for the thrill of a lifetime. He smiled and said, “Oh we have some big races coming up this summer with the Travis. American Pharoah will be racing. Bob Baffet is bringing some good horses to Saratoga Springs this summer.”
That was the last time I saw my friend. I went over to the Wesley Nursing Home this past week because Henry wasn’t answering the phone. This is when the nurse told me that Henry was gone. He had walked on. I was broken up about my friend and went out to the garden for a good cry. At least he knew that he gave me the gift of friendship and excitment in our shared love of a magnificant horse. I don’t plan on ever betting again. This was a gift that Henry gave me. I will cherish this memory as it stands.