Who Knew?

May 1, 2024 at 12:00 a.m.
When Pat was about nine, she dreamed of becoming a cowgirl and a ballerina
When Pat was about nine, she dreamed of becoming a cowgirl and a ballerina

...by Pat D'Amico

When I was about nine, I chose a dual career path – cowgirl and ballerina. I saw no incongruity in the decision.

One day my dad announced that our family would spend a week at The Flying U Dude Ranch in Canada. My inner ballerina leapt with joy.

The trip from Bellingham took two days in our 1936 Ford. Upon arrival, we bedded down in a log cabin. We were told that Jake, the wrangler, would assign horses to us in the morning.

After breakfast, we met Jake at the corral. My brother and I were given gentle horses. My dad, having grown up on a ranch, pitched in and helped Jake saddle horses for the other guests. Jake sized up my dad’s skill and assigned him a spirited stallion.

“Can you handle him?” Jake asked.

The grin on my dad’s face said, “Hi Ho Silver!”

Jake added, “Can your wife manage his stable mate? If one runs the other will too.”

My joy turned to fear. My mom had also grown up on a ranch, but she was a shy person who had never even learned to ride a bike. I pictured myself motherless.

“Let’s find out,” said Dad, winking in the direction of my frozen face.

Before I could speak, Mom was on the horse. A couple of purposeful nudges with her heels and she galloped away, full speed. She expertly wheeled the horse around and trotted triumphantly back to the corral.

Pat's mom in her mid-80s


After a gracious and fulfilling life, my mom politely passed away at ninety-four. I like to think of her racing across that field with her hair flying in the wind—a cowgirl with the grace of a ballerina.

This photo of Pat D’Amico, longtime contributor to Northwest Prime Time, was taken the day of her 70th high school reunion. “I kept my mom’s house in Bellingham and the renters are wonderful. My daughter snapped the picture while I was looking around with great pleasure,” says Pat.

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