Over the next year, Molly did a good job of caring for her six foster babies and her son. We formed a strong bond. The older colts helped her as much as we could to look after the younger ones.
Then one day, Molly told us, “I’m going off alone. I want time to myself. Do not follow me this time. You older ones look after the young ones. I love you all. Good bye.” Molly looked at her foster family and her son for the last time. She had felt age creep up on her. Pain replaced her zest for life. She was going off to die alone. She knew we were old enough now to care for ourselves. It had been a long scary year for her. She knew Baby would be her last and may have grown up with one of the other mares as a foster mother. But it was she who became the only mother for all of us. She knows she had done a good job, as she tiredly trudged around the lake.
We don’t know what she meant as we watched her walk away over the rise. Usually we followed her wherever she went. Now we were alone.
We knickered and whinnied, and waited for Molly to return. I finally believed she wasn’t coming back. The way she said good-bye and not to follow her. What are we going to do now? I wonder, and when should I tell the others I think she isn’t coming back. Sooner would be better than later. Then we can decide what to do and who will lead us now. I call, “Hey, guys come here. I want to tell you something.”
“What is it, Angel?” Blaze asked, as he came over to me. He was the oldest by two days.
“I think Molly isn’t coming back.” I said and looked at Baby and Cheekie, they were closer to Molly because they nursed longer than the rest of us. The rest of us took what was left one at a time when they were finished.
Baby was upset, “Why do you say that about mother? She loved us and wouldn’t leave us alone.”
“Baby,” I said softly, “I am sorry, but the way she said good bye and not to follow her. We had always gone with her. She was old and tired. It was a hard job to look after us. We hadn’t always been good. Yes, she loved us; that is what kept her going as long as she did.”
Blaze said, “Angel is right, we are on our own now. We must decide what we are going to do and who is going to lead us.”
Cheekie said, “Blaze and Angel are the oldest and if we all co-operate like the family Molly taught us to be, we can survive on our own.”