|From the Old Days|
In September we always went on roundup. The three-day roundups I remember were scaled down dramatically from the six-week-long roundups my dad had engaged in as a young man, back in the day when there were not many fences and cattle could scatter for fifty miles in nearly all directions.
He was an excellent horseman, having ridden from the time he was old enough to walk. He broke his last colt when he was in his early 70s. It wasn’t long after that, though, that he hung up his spurs, perhaps realizing he was getting too old for the game. But the itch to ride never subsided. He was 80 when we bought a little mare for our youngest daughter. Naturally we worried if the mare would be a good, reliable mount, not a spoiled knucklehead that would get our daughter hurt.
My dad came to visit one day and we were showing him the horse. He said he’d give her a “test run” to make sure she was okay. But I could see the longing in his eyes. He was itching to get on that horse and the test run was only an excuse. He swung up on her bareback and rode her around the lawn and yard. When he brought her back and slid off, his blue eyes were sparkling. He handed the reins over with his seal of approval.
That was the last ride my dad took. Shortly after, he found out he had cancer and died four months later, sixteen years ago today. But I’ll always remember the joy he got out of being horseback again, if only for a few minutes on a kid’s old mare.