A Great American Cowboy.
Nothing better describes my grandfather, Harold. We always used to joke that he was born years too late, for "cowboy" was the very essence of what he was. He belonged in the Old West, where he surely would have been one of the greatest of the great American cowboys.
His jeans were dusty and worn and his boots were even more dusty and worn. He was a great horseman and anyone who ever saw him in a saddle knew that that is where he was home at. He was the hardest woker you ever would have known and he lived a life of integrity. He wore a cowboy hat not because of fashion, but because that's who he was.
I only really knew my grandpa Harold growing up because my other grandfather (my mother's father) died when I was very young. One of my fondest childhood memories is the afternoon that he took me riding on his horse. It was always a big treat amongst me and my cousins to be able to ride grandpa's horse. As we were all clamoring for who would be first, my grandfather suddenly reached to the back and picked me up first. Instead of the usual slow walk around in a circle, we went for a ride in the country for what seemed like the entire afternoon.
Just me and my grandpa and his horse.
By the time we got back, saddle sore doesn't even begin to describe how sore my backside was. But I was determined to not let grandpa know. He was a tough cowboy and I was his granddaughter - I had to be tough, just like him.
Sadly, my grandfather passed away when I was in high school. A cowboy born years too late left us years too soon.
Just six short years later I would be sitting in my parent's living room with a white veil in my hair and knots in my stomach.
My grandmother reached into her purse as she asked me if I had a penny to put in my shoe that day, just as the old wedding day adage says.
She then handed me a tarnished, worn, old penny.
"This was your grandpa's lucky penny," she said. "He wore it in his boot every day of his life."
And, just a few short hours later, two wooden and stained glass doors would open and I would take my first steps down the aisle with a tarnished, worn, old penny in my new white satin shoe.
That penny would also be in my shoe on days where I needed a little extra luck. It was in my shoe when I accepted my first real professional paid writing job and was also with me on December 21, 2005 when I met the little man face-to-face for the very first time.
And now, as a adult, I often wonder what my grandpa would think of me today if he was still here with us. I wonder what he would think of me as an adult and the life I have led.
I wonder what he would think of me as a writer.
And as a mother.
Then I wish oh so very much that he could have known the little man.
And that the little man could have known him.
And I begin to wonder just how I will ever be able to explain to the little man about his great grandfather, the great cowboy?
How would I ever be able to keep his memory alive so that my son could know at least a little bit about who and where he comes from?
And just as I begin to believe that I will never be able to convey to the little man what a great legacy he comes from, I look up and see this:
And I know that I don't need to explain anything to him. For some things don't need to be explained to us, it's just in the very fiber of who we are. He will never know his great grandfather personally, but his great grandfather's legacy does continue on through him.
And I smile, knowing that somewhere up above, there is a Great American Cowboy and very proud great grandfather smiling with me.