editor’s note: I asked Teresa to write about returning to a summer of racing at Saratoga after a first half of the year that included being diagnosed with–and treatment for–cancer. She was trepidatious at first, but gradually found the words among shared experiences with family and the horses. I’m glad she did. -@EJXD2
My family gathers in the backyard at Saratoga on Labor Day.
My mother prepares a cooler of sandwiches and snacks; we bring cans of beer and plastic bottles of wine (no glass allowed) and water; my brother and I secure the same picnic tables at which he has sat for decades, and at which I joined him 17 years ago, when I began my Saratoga homecoming.
For our family, closing day is both festive and forlorn. My parents still live in Saratoga, in the house in which my brother and I grew up, and it’s in the summer that he and I are most likely to both return, so closing day means not only the end of the track, but also the end of regular family get-togethers. We’ll see each other again soon…but maybe not until Thanksgiving, and for us, that’s a long time.
And as I’ve gotten older, Labor Day brings not just mournful thoughts of the closing of the race course, but the nagging, ineluctable awareness that someday, not all of us will be there.
For the last nine years, I’ve been fortunate to spend all or most of the Saratoga race meeting actually *in* Saratoga: working at a place I cherish, returning to a town I treasure, seeing the people I love, renewing old friendships and making new ones. The track offers its own kind of family reunion, with trainers, jockeys, and writers from across the country converging on the Spa City, and I look forward to it all year, setting preparation in motion usually before the snow is gone from the Oklahoma training track.
This year was different.
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