Sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen
You can find amazing and wonderful stuff when rummaging about in old files. The story was written by my grandson, a wildlife biologist, when he was twelve years old. I was struck by the compassion, imagination and sensitivity he showed even at that young age. As I watch him with his small children and hear stories about his work today, I think the seeds of a good man were sprouted early in his life.
THE PURPLE HORSES
Derick Mitchell had cerrebral palsy. The other children cruelly made fun of Derick because he was different from themselves. He had no friends at all, but he always imagined that he had one special friend whose name was Wyatt. He hoped that Wyatt would come true one day.
Derick and his parents decided to go on a trip to Yosemite. His mom was very excited, as the family was very poor and money for trips was scarce.
As Derick began to pack his clothes, he happened upon a large cross and chain in his bottom drawer. He had never seen it before, and wondered how it came to be in his drawer. It was made of silver and was very bright and shiny, with a silver chain. He picked it up and turned it over to see if there was an inscription on the other side. There was no writing, but there seemed to be a tiny worn drawing. He rubbed it on his shirt to clean the tarnish from it. Yes, it was an engraving of a running horse. How strange, he thought.
Suddenly, Derick’s thoughts were interrupted by his mother’s voice calling him. “Derick, let’s go! What is keeping you so long? We are all ready in the car.”
“”I’ll be right there, Mom” he called. He put the cross around his neck and tucked it inside his shirt. For the tme being, he would keep this his secret.
It took them about 7 hours to get to Yosemite. Derick’s mother told him about all the beautiful mountains and streams he would see when they got there. It made him happy to see her so excited. Finally they arrived late in the afternoon, and it was as beautiful as he had imagined. The air smelled fresh and new, and the streams were as clean as the air around them.
They set up their campsite and Derick began to unpck his clothes. Some kids came up and began to call his a “retard” and some otheer bad names. A tear trickled down his face. “Oh look at the wimp” they laughed, and ran away.
Slowly Derick rolled off in his wheelchair. It was not easy wheeling over the rough terrain, but concntrating on the difficulty he was having made him forget how cruel the children were. He went along for a long time, breathing the fresh air and loving the beauty of the tall trees. He heard the loud rushing sound before he actually saw the waterfall. Amazed at how very beautiful it was, he stopped and stared at it. It seemed to fall right from Heaven itself. The basin it fell into was surrounded with large rocks, and the water boiled and churned among them before it went bubbling off down the stream to finally join the river which flowed through the valley.
As Derick gazed at the waterfall, he became aware of a movement behind it. He moved a little closer, and suddenly two horses stepped out from behind the veil of water. Derick could not believe his eyes. The two horses were purple… a beautiful purple color. He sat as still as a tombstone watching them toss their lovely manes in the rainbow of the waterfall. Anything seemed possible in this mystical spot.
The horses looked at him and motioned for him to follow them. He wheeled quickly over to the waterfall and went into it. When he came out the other side there were hundreds of horses, all different colors, running and playing. Then he saw a mother horse have a baby. The baby tried to stand but it was too weak. Derick thought of himself as he watched the tiny thing struggle to stand on his weak legs. He wheeled himself over to the little horse to try to help in some way. Suddenly he thought of the cross around his neck. He took it off and placed it around the young baby’s neck. Without hesitation the colt stood, looked at Derick and began to prance.
Derick suddenly felt an unfamiliar surge to through his legs. He could feel his feet! He lifted first one leg and then the other. He stood up and began to walk around his wheelchair. “I can walk!” he shouted with joy. The baby horse came up and nudged him and then ran away. Derick thought that must have been his way of saying thank you.
Leaving his wheelchair, Derick ran back to the campsite. His Mom cried out and tears ran down her face. “How did this happen?” she asked as she hugged him close. Derick looked at her and said “The Purple Horses.”