I wouldn’t call it an impulse buy yet instantly I knew Fred would come home with us. His large, black, doe-like eyes pierced through mine awakening my melancholy heart. If he had a thinking brain he would have known in an instant he’d succeeded in finding his new forever home.

Years ago, when we moved into the house in which we now live, my son switched to a new elementary school. He was sad to leave his friends behind but thankfully they were not far away. It was his fifth grade and the only year at this school so I offered to drive him the short distance from our house to school each morning. I’m certain I did this as much to soothe my aching heart that wept for having moved him just across the major boundary redirecting him to his new school.

I enjoyed those few moments alone with my little man. I quickly discovered how sad he was in his new classrooms with no best friends like those he left behind. It broke my heart to hear his daily stories. Each afternoon I asked him to tell me something positive before he told me something negative about his day.

On our morning ride to school, we passed a few farms, a vet’s office, several neighborhoods, and an expansive field wrapped by a black fence hugging the road to our right. It is located just across from Andrew’s (new) elementary school. In this field numerous black cows roamed about, oblivious to us driving by day after day. Early on into his school year, Andrew pointed out a single, solitary cow amongst all the rest who had a white face, white socks, and who of course stood out in the herd.  Andrew named this remarkable cow Fred and Monday through Friday we scanned the field for this unique bovine. Our morning drive was a success when Fred was sited, his white face perched tall and proud having no idea he was any different from his field mates.  On these mornings Andrew hopped out of the car with a small smile on his face.  I drove away with a small smile on my heart and this is how the game of ‘Finding Fred’ allowed each of us to begin our days with a bit of positive energy for the remainder of that fifth grade year.

So here I am 11 years later at a lovely resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, where I have spotted Fred.  His eyes gently whisper of when I first became an E’ville woman. His knowing look suggests he noticed me driving Earlysville Road with my sweet son who felt like an outcast. I feel such adoration and gratitude looking at this wp-1491316014620.jpgpainting I know he must come home with me where he will be appreciated for all that he represents. Should he remain here hanging in this shop amongst the other paintings he will simply stare blankly into nothingness where his story will never be told.

Like Fred, who was ‘outstanding’ in his field, so is my incredible son. His hard work and tenacity has rewarded him handsomely. Following his Ohio State graduation next month, he returns to Virginia beginning an exciting new chapter of his life. Both their stories have come full circle, neither an outcast any longer.


  1. I have a related story about uprooting my daughters to a similarly semi-rural location which I may write about someday. Meanwhile, have you considered giving this portrait of Fred to your son as a graduation gift?

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, Fred is way too large! My son is on his way to dental school then military, with relo after relo and will have limited space…doubtful he will want a giant moo face staring down at him right now. He will get Fred one day, if he wants him…I look forward to reading about your girl’s story. I think we parents take it just as rough as they do.


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