Who Is Mike Chapman?

The next day as I woke up, I noticed that the big Freightliner across the street was gone. I was disappointed because Mike had said that he’d come over today. Mike must have had to make another run. Miya was waiting for me at her stall door. Mike said to take it slow, but I had advanced to putting the halter on Miya. It was hard sometimes to see which way it went on, however.

I invited my friend Shirley to come out, and she showed me the right way to do it. It was great to have someone my age who knew how to care for horses. She showed me how to lead Miya, groom her, and clean out her feet. She asked me if I would like to come to the next 4-H meeting at the Grange Hall on Thursday. I was excited and said that would be great. She said it would give me a chance to meet some of the other girls and boys in the community. She said that maybe I could bring my horse to the next horse play day at the fairgrounds. It would be on Saturday. I didn’t have a horse trailer, so I asked Shirley if she might have room for Miya in her trailer. Shirley’s parents are leaders in the 4-H club. I could hardly wait to tell Mike about this. I truly hoped he would be home soon because it would be nice if he came along. I was thinking that, maybe, he would like to be a leader.

Mom was busy on the phone. Armed with Mike’s last name, she tracked down where Mike had lived for so long over in the Willamette Valley. With a lot of effort, one great connection potentially provided Mike’s parent’s phone number.

She dialed excitedly. “Maybe we can get some questions answered here,” she thought. “Hello, is this Mrs. Chapman? My name is Marcia Peters. I’m calling from over in Central Oregon.”

“Yes, this is Mrs. Chapman. Hello Marcia, what can I do for you?”

“We recently met a Mike Chapman who lives across the street from us in Alfalfa, near Bend. Is this your relation?” Mom asked.

“Yes, he is my son and he’s been living over there for about three years now. I know; indeed, he lives over in Alfalfa,” answered Mrs. Chapman.

“We just moved to the area, and he was very kind to share some information about caring for a horse that we had recently purchased. I wanted to thank him, but he is off driving his truck now. Could you tell me something about, well, excuse me, I was just a little bit concerned because of an incident that happened at our place when we were sharing information about our new horse with him. When he saw the pedigree of our new horse, he suddenly got very quiet and very emotional. I’m a little bit worried about him because he just changed the subject, excused himself, and went home. I know he was rather tired, but he said that he would come over the next day. We noticed his truck was gone the next day. I don’t want to pry, but he’s all by himself over there with no family that we could see. He has been so kind to my son, and we have come to enjoy his company. Could you tell us something that would help us understand his reaction?”

“Thank you, Ms. Peters, for your concern,” said Mrs. Chapman. Then she continued. “Mike really isn’t a truck driver at heart. He’s been living in his truck most of the time for the last three years. I really haven’t heard from him a lot.”

Mike’s mom asked, “Is he okay?”

“He was very happy when he was with our horse, Mrs. Chapman, that’s why we were so concerned when he just excused himself.”

“Mrs. Peters, did you say that he was looking at a pedigree of a horse when he got all emotional?”

“Yes, that’s what happened,” Mom explained.

“Mrs. Peters, I’ll share this with you. It just kills Mike to be in his truck all the time. He is a horseman from way back; ever since he could walk. He’s been chasing horses all over the country and the world for most of his life. Thirteen years ago, his business failed and all that kept his family alive were his horses. He was forced to start driving a truck to make a living. His saving grace was a special stallion that he imported from Germany. He worked hard to keep his horse ranch running while he stood his stallion on his ranch. He loved that stallion dearly. He was his soul mate. It was hard to balance the work at the ranch, driving, and breeding many mares while taking care of his family. Three years ago, his precious stallion died. The stress on his wife because of finances, his absence while driving, and the death of their beloved family stallion was too much. That’s when his wife divorced him, taking his son. They owned thirty or more mares at the time, which resulted in the disbursement of all those priceless horses that he had bred over the years. It was very difficult for Mike; he sunk into a deep depression as he drove his truck. Not being able to have his precious horses by his side, I’m glad to see that at least he came over to see your horse because I think he believed he would never have a horse again. I appreciate your sharing this with me Mrs. Peters.”

With great empathy, Mom said, “It must be hard for you Mrs. Chapman to see this happening to him. My son has become good friends with Mike, and he really looks up to him. My son probably reminds Mike of his own son who lives with his mother. Does he get to see him very often Mrs. Chapman?”

“Well, I don’t know how long it’s been since he has seen him. His family is moving around the country, and I guess one of the reasons why he is driving his truck for work is so he could be close to him and maybe visit with him now and again,” Mrs. Chapman explained.

“Thank you for sharing this, ma’am. It helps me to understand what happened in the barn the other day. Would it be okay if I save your number and keep you informed?” Mom said.

“My son is really a good man Mrs. Peters. There is no reason to worry about him associating with your son.”

“I really appreciate that Mrs. Chapman. I’ll keep you posted. Thank you again. Goodbye.”

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