Tuesday, May 7, 2013

One Less Cowboy

We said goodbye to my Dad last week. He was doing pretty good, had a bad night, and was gone by 2:00 pm the next day. He died in his button up Levis, in his own home, on the ranch he loved. When we visited the mortuary the undertaker brought us his pocket knife. We put it back in his pocket on the day of the funeral.

Dad taught me many things. How to set a post, ride horses, use a shovel, and swath hay. To do what you say you will and finish a job to the end. Ride after dark if you need to. Whistle while you work, honor your spouse, and never get angry with your kids.  

I slept in a crib in my folks’ room way past my toddler years. Dad slept next to me and we would hold hands through the bars each night. I was sad when he had to pull his arm back to go to sleep. In the morning I would get up and crawl into bed with him, my bent knees making a little mountain under the covers, his knees making a big mountain. And as Mom fixed breakfast, Dad would sort through my dresses in the closet, helping me select the one I wanted to wear that day. I can see him there in the darkened bedroom, standing to the side, illuminated by the closet light.

One morning I got dressed with Dad’s help and Mom made me go back and change because the dress was too little. What! But Dad thought it was okay!

When I was a kid, whenever he saw me he would put his hand on my shoulder and ask, “How’s me youngest friend?” He was funny, gentle and kind. He “itched” my back for me and rubbed my feet (his miracle cure) when I was sick.

He worked long hours and was totally dedicated to the cattle business. He shrank from judging others, but had firm convictions of right and wrong. We didn’t go to him for advice as he was reticent to offer his opinion. He knew we would make good choices.     

On the day of his passing, a bobwhite sang to us outside his bedroom window. Bob-bob-white! Over and over, and I was comforted. 

He has worked long and hard and misses Mom. He needs to rest and has only withdrawn his hand from me ‘til morning.

That's me on Dad's lap

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