The Painted Gate
By Patrick Shannahan

In thinking about how my life has been blessed by some great people and mentors, I always think about my friend, Evie Kimberly.

Evie was retired, and those who knew her saw the difficulty with her rheumatoid arthritis and other medical problems. Yet, each summer Evie would make the long journey from Silver City, NM to my home in Caldwell to work dogs and go to a few trials. Evie would camp at my home for 3-4 months, train her dogs, and enjoy the Idaho summers.

If you ever were around Evie, you knew she loved to laugh, pull pranks and make jokes of herself. She loved to tease her friends and gently pick on their faults or insecurities. It was all in good humor and love.

As most of you know, I am gone quite a few weekends during the summer. Sometimes I am off giving clinics or seminars, judging, or occasionally I get to trial as well. Sometimes Evie would watch over the place, which included feeding and taking care of dogs.

In my back yard, I had a corral that backed up to the lawn where I did most of my sorting and sheep work. Occasionally, I took the sheep through the back yard, but usually I took them through an opposite gate that went directly out to the pasture.

In the tradition of poor sheepman, I was not the best at having the top notch working facilities. And, because I had such good dogs, it wasn't really necessary to improve the sorting systems as my dogs could help me either though shedding or a gate sort. Evie occasionally took the brunt of my poor facilities when I was gone.

The gate to backyard was meant to be temporary. It was a hog panel bungeed to a post that wired another hog panel. Several times when I arrived home I heard how the sheep had busted the gate down and Evie and her dog had to herd the sheep back. Some of you might not think that sheep in the backyard is bad, but the sheep have a particular fondness for bluegrass and landscaping plants. At the same time, they never get out when it is convenient.

So, one day Evie offered to pay for a new gate. I said sure, or I would get a new one for her when I had a bit of spare time. No, Evie wanted to pay for it as part of her contribution to the farm. There was one condition- she wanted to paint it a different color. I okayed the gate and thought nothing of the paint request.

Well, Evie got our local handyman to install the gate one weekend while I was gone. I knew the handyman and he was known for his craftsmanship and precision. I had no worries about it being installed properly.

Well, I was greeted by Evie when I arrived home. She wanted to show me the new addition to the farm. As I walked back to the corral, there, installed beautifully, was a brand new hot pink gate to the sheep corral. The smile on Evie's mouth was one of pure joy and happiness. She couldn't wait to say to me, "You said I could paint it any color I wanted."

Today the gate is still working. Evie has been gone for 8 years, but each time I stop and notice the chipping and faded paint on the gate, I am reminded of Evie's smile and laugh.


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