“Don’t let ’em pick guitar or drive them old trucks, make ’em be doctors and lawyers and such …”
So, I know that’s what Waylon and Willie said, but sometimes cowboys are just born, and in spite of a Mama’s best efforts, that’s how they grow up. I have two cowboy sons and one “and such…”! Allyn made it clear from the outset that he was going to be a part of the elite and his tastes were such that cowboyhood never entered his mind. He isn’t a doctor or lawyer, but rather a very successful executive whose talents are in high demand. That’s good … that makes me smile!
Jeff and Brian, on the other hand, were born as cowboys. From early on, they loved the outdoors and all the excitement of discovering the new things and the new experiences that it provided. Because they wanted to play outside so much of the time, we fenced in our backyard. That only held them in for a few years! As soon as they were big enough, they learned to jump it. That was no easy task, as it was a 5-1/2 foot wooden thing with a locking gate. Somehow, they would manage to pull themselves up to the top and then dive over head first. Of course, Jeff would always talk his little brother into doing the dive first, so he could see how it went and determine if he really wanted to take that risk! Once released, they would explore the neighborhood with Thomas, their friend who lived a few doors down. That usually ended not so well for any of the three of them. There was always some mischief to make, and they had a keen sense of where that might be. So, they would go there and make it ~ mischief, I mean. We, or Thomas’ parents, would always find out and then the cowboys would be corralled for a time.
There was a fairly large piece of land between the back of our fence and the street. It was heavily wooded and a perfect place for the guys to play. One summer, when they were 9 and 10, they built a “hide-out” back there from the plywood we had in our basement storage room. They took the large pieces of plywood and pushed them over the fence, then they would do the fence dive behind them. This little venture involved not only Thomas, but Timmy, as well ~ another neighbor from the next cul-de-sac. They drew plans for the hide-out and then set about building it. They spent hours and days hammering, building, creating. They begged for blankets and flashlights and other paraphernalia to make their hide-out a more comfortable place. They were SO proud when they finished. All the parents were called together to view their creation. Non-cowboy adults are much less adventurous and much more cautious than cowboy children. We weren’t really in to doing the fence dive thing, so we walked around to the other side and went in from the back. We were amazed! They had pooled all of their resources and walked to the Ace Hardware where they purchased paint, several 2×4’s and a battery-powered Coleman lantern. Their hide-out included benches and a make-shift table ~ the perfect place for “suburban cowboys”. I was always surprised that the county didn’t find it and remove it because a portion of it was on the right of way. I suppose it was back far enough in the woods that the workmen didn’t see it. That little hide-out was still there when we sold that home several years later, although it wasn’t used as frequently as that first summer when it was built!
As the boys grew older, they continued to like cowboy things. They camped, fished, and helped their cousin on his farm in middle Georgia, where they called themselves “ranch hands”. Whitewater rafting, or just rafting period, was one of their favorite things to do, and hunting, of course! They both had pick up trucks and they both picked guitar. But here’s the thing …
Waylon & Willie said “Them that don’t know him probly won’t like him & them that do sometimes won’t know how to take him” … I think being a cowboy isn’t about what you’ve done or how you act. It’s a state of mind … an attitude. My cowboys were fiercely independent, wanted to find their own way, but still, kind, caring and so considerate. I could write for hours about my two cowboys and the cowboy things they did, and I could post lots of pictures. But, they didn’t wear “lone star belt buckles” ~ faded Levis, well, yes, every now and then, but it was mostly Polos and Khakis. That’s how it was …
Waylon & Willie also said, “If you don’t understand him and he don’t die young, he’ll probly just ride away …” I like to think my two amazing cowboys just rode away, but the truth is, they died young, because of Leukemia … my children, and so many more have been lost to this wretched disease. It’s time we found a cure, don’t you think? “Cowboys ain’t easy to love and harder to hold …” said Waylon & Willie. My cowboys were so very easy to love, but so hard to hold. If I could have, well I would have. If I could have somehow protected them from disease and from heartbreak, well, I would have.
We can protect those struggling today with Leukemia … those yet to come … and honor those lost. Together, we can live in a world free of this wretched disease.
You can help. Visit http://jeffreysvoice.org and join us in the fight. Oh, and Leukemia, well you SUCK ~