At the end of this long Sunday, Joshua calls. “I went to the track,” he says.

How many times did Ernie and Joshua come back from the track totally spent physically and usually fiscally, almost too tired to tell me what happened — yet tell me they did. What happened in this race . . . what didn’t happen that almost happened in that race . . . what they thought about doing but didn’t do. Bad luck and good luck.

So many times I chose to let their bad-luck stories bruise me and anger me. “Why’d you bet on that horse?” . . . “Why’d you skip that race?” . . . “Why didn’t you bet the Trifecta, too?” Riding just under my anger was my fear: We’ll lose all our money. What will become of us?

Joshua’s voice breaks into my rememberings. “I found a horse I liked in the first race.”

His voice has a vibrancy to it. He’s not going to tell me a horror story.

“I thought he’d win, but I wanted to be conservative so I put two bucks to place on him. He won by five lengths. In the next race I liked the favorite, but he’s 6–5 so I skip it, and he wins. The third race is one of those hard-to-call races where all the horses look alike. But I notice a horse who likes Churchill’s turf. Throw out her last two races, both on dirt, and she shows a turf mile in l:38 and change and she’s 15-l, so I put win and place money on her. I like two other horses so I play an Exacta with my top two choices, leaving out my third choice. It’s a photo-finish at the end with my three horses in it. My third choice edges out my second choice for second, but my longshot wins by half a length. Then I leave. I won maybe twenty bucks. Maybe thirty. And I had fun. I didn’t put any pressure on myself.”

“You didn’t put any pressure on yourself,” I repeat.

“I took a hundred and twenty bucks to the track. I hid the C-note and played with the twenty.”

Joshua hid the C-note. He set a boundary for himself that he respected. On this Sunday at the track, he practiced moderation. How wonderful! He left the track feeling good. How wonderful! He left the track with races still to run. How wonderful!

This is major growth. He didn’t let the track control him, overcome him, victimize him, take from him, hurt him.

Good for him.



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My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.