My definition of the great American cowboy has never been like those I’ve seen on television, and bears no resemblance to a country western singer. No, the great American cowboy looks nothing like Festus and has nothing in common with Keith Urban. For me, the great American cowboy was my grandfather.
Early this morning, he entered into eternal life.
In his book, “Cowboy Philosophy in Rhyme,” Jack DeWerff pays tribute to my grandfather in a poem entitled, “Buster.”
Buster weren’t nothin’ but a cowboy,
Just an old cow-poke.
He was good at breakin’ colts to ride
And handy with a rope.
He was kind of an ornery rascal
Back in his younger days.
Some folks liked down their noses at him
Because of his cowboy ways.
He liked pretty girls and fast horses.
A shot of bourbon now and then.
He never did cheat nobody
Treated everyone like a friend.
The neighbors would all get him to help ’em
To doctor, and brand, and such.
‘Cause he knowed a lot about cattle,
And never did charge ’em much.
He’d scratch out a livin’ on an old sandhill farm
Where he lived with his kids and his spouse.
And I ‘spect he gave away more stuff than he had,
‘Cause his heart was a big as a house.
Fame and fortune both passed him by;
He had no silver or gold.
And his prospects for ever havin’ much were slim.
‘Cause like me, he was gettin’ old.
But it never did seem to bother him much,
Not havin’ what he couldn’t afford.
But I think maybe someday up yonder
He’ll receive his deserved reward.
‘Cause I ‘spect when he gets to those Pearly Gates,
St. Peter will say with a grin,
“We can always use another good cowboy.
Welcome, old friend, come on in.”
Though Parkinson’s disease and old age slowed gramps down a bit, his smile was still infectious and his heart was indeed still, “the size of a house.”
While I don’t wear a cowboy hat and have never ridden a horse, my grandfather and I had a lot in common. I was “kind of an ornery rascal” growing up. Goodness knows I enjoy the occasional shot of bourbon. Though I think what we shared most in common is our love of people and the desire to treat “everyone like a friend.”
“Someday up yonder,” has come.
Today, St. Peter greets him, “with a grin.”
I’m sure Gramps is grinning right back.
So as I bid him a fond farewell, I raise a glass and figuratively tip my hat to the great American cowboy, my grandfather.
Happy trails. I’ll miss you, Buster.
‘Til we meet again.