Tag Archives: remember

Cowboy

Stories from behind the cardboard sign part 3

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I stopped at a rest stop, he was sitting there with his cardboard sign and can. His face was lined with a million stories. He wore rough work clothes, worn work boots and a cowboy hat that had seen decades of use.

I summoned my courage to stop and talk to him. His face was compelling, it had a million stories in the wrinkles and crinkles, I wanted to hear at least one of them. I told him I did not have cash but I had some energy bars in the car, would he like a few? He looked up with hazy blue eyes that still had a twinkle to them, he said yes he would love them.

I sat next to him, handed him the bars and a bottle of water. He thanked me and told me that he was so ashamed to be sitting here asking for money, he had a small trailer to go home to, but he needed a medical procedure and he did not have the money for it. We chatted for a few minutes, he told me he rode in rodeos, worked as a cowboy on ranches, he said there is no retirement fund for those jobs. He reminisced for just a minute about how he loved that work.

I mentioned to him I was a photographer and that I would love to take his picture, he very politely declined. I told him was I understood, but in truth I was so disappointed, he had the most interesting face.  He told me he had done things in his past he did not want his face on that “web thing”. I told him I respected his privacy.

He questioned why I would want a picture of him, he was just an old wrinkled man. I explained about how his face drew me to him and how I thought he had many stories. He smiled shyly, and shook his head a little embarrassed.

He was well-spoken, shy, and a little ashamed, but he would not trade the “cowboy days” and would still be riding if he was able. I left him with a hand shake, and wishing I could hear more. I still check out that rest stop when I pass in hopes of seeing him again.

 

Author’s note:  I spoke with this man “Cowboy” last spring. Out of this conversation came the courage to actually do this project that has been in my head for years.

 

Precious Nuggets

This morning I am sitting in the garden, I am realizing this may be one of the last mornings I will be here in this quiet place. It is a bit chilly. It makes me a bit sad. I love sitting here listing to the birds, watching the hummingbirds flit around. I will miss this routine.

A good friend of Jason’s posted this on his Facebook wall for his birthday. “She was no longer wrestling with grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.” – George Elliot.  She went on to write “Jason, you are missed. Not in storms of weeping, not in cries of pain, but in quiet ways on everyday.” – JW

I did not see it until yesterday. I am not sure how I missed it, but the timing of seeing it yesterday was amazing. I had just been thinking over this last week, that I seem to be having more sad days, not really even whole days but moments. I have been trying to figure out why. It dawned on me yesterday.

Tim and I took a drive to Tillamook, with the ultimate destination Lincoln City for a concert in the evening. Whenever I go to that part of the coast I can not help but think about the many times Chelsey, Jason and I toured the cheese factory there. How Jason loved cheese curds. When I am near there, I always want to stop at a little fruit stand near Beaver. We stopped yesterday, and as I wandered around I wondered to myself why I was there. This fruit stand is not particularly a favorite, the service lacks something. It is disorganized, and expensive. As I was looking and trying to figure out why I always have to stop there, I remembered. This was one of Jason’s favorite stops, not because he loved fruit or veggies, but they have a hot sauce bar with about 30 different sauces to sample. Jason loved this, he would stand there and sample and sample and sample. Eventually he would pick a favorite and buy it, but oh he loved his hot sauces.

I realized in that moment why I am having these moment more often. It is not just that this is the one year, it is that for many months as memories came to me I would wrap them up and put them away to be looked at another time.  Precious nuggets, to be dealt with later, I could not give them more than a quick glance. I was sure I would unravel.

I am finding now that I am unwrapping some of those memories, one or two at a time, looking at them, feeling them, enjoying them.  I will take these precious nuggets, examine them,  polish them, hold them in my heart, and proudly display them on the shelf of my mind. Yes, they will make me sad at times, but they are too precious to keep locked up. This is part of my healing.