I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my family heritage and particularly about close family members who have passed away, so while I was looking for some papers related to our property, I ran across some information about my grandfather and my mom that was shared at their funerals. Obviously I had filed these things away and forgot about them. I then went back to what we wrote about my dad for his celebration of life and I was struck by the strong and amazing people I have been blessed with and was fortunate enough to call my family. I also realized some truths about myself and why I am how I am. My mom passed away when she was only 42 years old, I was young and lived in a different country so I didn’t really get to know her while I was an adult, I only knew her as my mom growing up. I know that my stubbornness comes from both my parents and my grandparents, my sense of family and my fierce desire to protect those I love comes directly from them, it’s clear that my loyalty to those I care about came from them, my ambition came from them, my sense of pride comes from them, my optimism comes from them, and my courage comes from them. Basically, who I am has so much to do with them even though they weren’t around for all of my upbringing. That being said, there are many more people who played a part in who I am today and in particular my husband and his family. I can’t say enough about them, they have supported me and provided guidance when I have struggled, they have mentored me and been my “balcony people” when I needed to be lifted up, they have always believed in me and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.
My grandfather passed away when I was 16 but what I didn’t know was that he was only 66 years old when he passed, which got me wondering what else he would have taught me and what our relationship would have been like had he been alive a little longer. While I read over what was written about him, a sense of pride and a familiar, peaceful feeling came over me remembering the man I knew only as grandpa. I knew my grandpa as being the friendly giant, he was a tall man and carried himself with a sense of confidence but there was also a mystery about him. He was a man of few words but his smile could light up a room. He was tough but gentle at the same time. He was a cowboy who could train even the wildest and roughest horses, my own dad even mentioned this and my dad was one of the greatest horse trainers I knew so this was quite the compliment coming from him (and he and my grandfather had their differences, a lot of differences). Grandpa was devoted to his family but did not take crap from anyone. This is the grandpa I knew. Below is the grandpa that one of his friends knew and as an adult now, I love being able to see him through somebody else’s eyes.
The absence of Dale, from the lives of all who knew him, leaves a large void. Dale lived a good life in which he knew love, knew and valued friendships, and was always able to perceive the true beauty of the world and its inhabitants. Dale was a cowboy and the outdoors was his church. His perspectives were simple, but in many respects, he was a complicated and deep thinking man. He was private, but had a warmth and understanding for people that could be a real source of comfort for those around him, particularly in times of stress. He knew when to laugh, when to cry, and when to be understanding. He was the most independent man I have ever known, asked no quarter from life, and never presumed on a friendship. There are givers and takers in this world and Dale was always a man who gave of himself. He was able to suffer disappointments and physical problems, as well as adversities, without becoming bitter or losing his warmth and love for life. His great wisdom and self-sufficiency was a source of strength and council for all those privileged to know him.
Dale was not a perfect individual. He was stubborn as a mule, and could be as cantankerous as cactus. He didn’t like to stay in one place too long. As Dale would have put it, “He had a funny way of going”, mostly caused by horse wrecks, but when he mounted a horse, he became an object of grace in the saddle. He understood horses, their thoughts, their movements, their balance, their emotions, and was able to communicate with them as well as anybody ever did. Many times, when Dale’s name would come up, he was referred to as half horse himself because of the unique abilities he had with them.
Probably Dales greatest gift was the gift of communication, not only with animals, but with people. He was a wonderful listener and had a unique ability to hear a problem, analyze it, and come up with a workable and fair solution which made sense. He had a particular fondness for children and an enviable ability to communicate with young people. In reflecting upon these qualities, they were his because he cared for people. He was truly a unique and unselfish man who contributed much more to life than he took out of it.
For all who value our western heritage and way of life, the word “Cowboy” is not taken lightly. “Cowboy” is an attitude, a word that does not apply to everybody. “Cowboy” is a word that has come to stand for pride, independence, plain talk, love and understanding of the outdoors, courage in the face of adversity, the willingness to try against sometime overwhelming odds, and the ability to accept defeat gracefully and to understand that one’s word and honor are synonymous. It stands for men, who, beneath their big hats, are courteous to others and gentle with their animals, men who still look up to ladies, treat them like ladies, and are able to maintain their sense of values and understand that friendships are sacred and never to be violated. Cowboys are men who have compassion for the sick animals and the willingness to help them. They are students of the great outdoors and its inhabitants, from the hawk on the fly to the creatures of the deserts and the plains.
Dale was a cowboy in the true sense of the word and all of us have enriched our lives for having known him. We are grieving now, not necessarily for Dale, but because of our own sense of loss and knowledge of how much we will continue to miss him. He truly cannot be replaced. We can take comfort, however, not only in the unique opportunity which each of us had to share his life with him, but in the fact that the honored place his memory holds in each of our minds will live on. We will miss him but we are all better people for having known him.
I am so glad I found this because it helped keep my grandpa alive in my heart and reminded me of what a strong and respected man he was.
I also wanted to share a little something that I wrote for my mom when she passed away (and forgive me if I copied this from someone, this time in my life was a blur and I was only 23 at the time) but it really is what I strive to be for my own kids so thank you mom, You taught me so much during your short time here on earth, until we meet again I love you. In August of this year, it will be 30 years that she has been gone but she will always hold the space in my heart that only a mom can fill.
As our first friend, you introduced us to a life filled by your love and warmth. You shaped the way we feel about the world and our place in it today.
Your confidence in us helped us to believe in ourselves and your praise and respect enabled us to appreciate our own worth.
You guided without control and encouraged without pressure. You gave your best, to bring out the best in us.
You taught us to think our own thoughts and to follow our own dreams. To be proud of our achievements and accepting of our mistakes, to find peace in each sunset and joy in each sunrise. To love our lives.
You knew what to say and how to listen to help us through the rough times and to make the good times even better. We took it for granted that you’d be there when we needed you.
As we grew older, we made many new friends but of all the kindness they have shown us, your understanding is still the deepest and your support the most generous.
We thank you mom for all you have been to us – our first friend. We will miss you.
I so wish that my parents and grandparents were alive today, they would get so much enjoyment out of their great grand children! (Like this time we took our oldest fishing off the dock). It’s the simple things in life that give us the most pleasure, and moments like these are opportunities to bow my head and to give thanks and take comfort in knowing that while they aren’t here physically, they are here in spirit guiding us along our journeys.
Thank you for allowing me to share a part of my journey