Monday, March 9, 2015

Grandpop, “There’s a difference between gettin’ and earnin’”

Howdy Friends, 

Grandpop is a series of stories I started in June of 2013, based loosely on my Uncle Ed, a WWII Vet, and real life cowboy. He grew up cowboyin’ on the famous XIT ranch in Texas until he left to join the war with a few of his range riding buddies. His daddy ran one of the general stores on the ranch. I never knew my Uncle until I graduated High School, the folks who had me on the farm allowed no outside contact, but when I met him I was immediately hooked on his quiet ways, wisdom and kindness toward all, animal and human. Uncle Ed is the personification of the Cowboy Code. I never had a father figure until I met Uncle Ed, and our visits over the years have served as guideposts to me. Our visits with Grandpop here in the Coffee Clutch are based sometimes on the chats he and I had on his farm in PA, and other times on chats as I imagined we would have them if we’d had the chance. Uncle Ed moved back to Texas, about 10 years ago, onto a little spread only a few miles from the Canadian River Breaks he cowboyed in his youth. His wisdom, it seems, is even more important now. You can have a read of our first ever visit with Grandpop HERE (with links to go on) – I hope you’ll enjoy our visits with Grandpop.
Kessy, Saturday and me writin' a story

“There’s a difference between gettin’ and earnin’”

His friendly smiles always took charge of the moment, times and situations I knew I’d handle differently, most certainly with less effect and understanding. Grandpop always knew how to make things understandable, on a higher level. Sometimes with just that smile of his. And a twinkle in his eyes. I could see the lad was still frustrated, perhaps even angry, but Grandpop’s smile, and purposeful hesitation, had the young fella thinking.

“You can get all the tangles out without cutting,” Grandpop encouraged from his seat on a straw bale. He sent me a silly grin. He’d been coaching the boy on the fine art of horse grooming but the tangled wind-braids in the mane looked to be more than the youngster wanted to deal with. “Take a few strands and pull ‘em up through one at a time, and little by little you’ll get ‘er. Then you’ll have a clean beautiful thick mane all wavy and plush, much better than just choppin’ it off to get done. You’ll feel better about it too.”

The glare the boy shot Grandpop telegraphed his disbelief and perhaps disinterest. “I wanna get done, you said if I clean him up we’d get to go riding. I’m at this ten minutes already and I want to get to ride before I go home.”

Grandpop’s soft chuckle always disarmed and didn’t fail this time.

“What? I just want to get to ride!” The boy tugged harder than necessary on a tangle. The patient horse leaned into the tug.

“Yup, I hear that.” Grandpop braced on his cane, stood and eased to the horse. With weathered fingers grown unsteady with age, he gently pulled a few strands free from tangle. He gave the boy a knowing smile. “See it’s really that easy. I’ll just sit on my straw throne and watch you finish up."

Some fifteen minutes later the boy beamed as he ran a brush through the tangle free, glossy white mane of Grandpop’s second favorite horse. The pride of a job well done painted on the young man’s face. “Looks pretty good doesn’t it?” He ran his fingers through the blonde hair. I’m ready to ride, I earned it!”

“You sure 'nough did!”

As they saddled Grandpop asked the boy about riding, and a bit about his life at home. I was busy tacking up my own mare, and missed some of it, but heard enough to know the lad a rough road at home. “I wish I could stay here.” I heard his voice trail away.

“I know young fella, and I wish I could keep all the young ‘ins like you who visit.” They stopped at the mounting block. “Take this with you when you head for home, it’ll help ya. There’s a difference between gettin’ something and earnin’ it. Ya see, when you just get something ‘cause you just reach out and get it, or can borrow enough money to buy it, the satisfaction is fleeting, unfulfilling and you need to run out to get the next thing you want, always not quite satisfied, because it means nothing. But if you work to earn it, put the time into truly possess it; it’ll have a lasting value. It’ll mean something. It’ll always give you a true sense of lasting satisfaction.”

Grandpop boosted the boy into the saddle. “That’s a problem with a lot of folks today. They just want to get, don’t even ever have the chance to feel the joy, the power of earning what they want. Don’t let that be you.”

We rode toward the mountain, I trailed a bit behind, but could see the boy sitting tall, happy and proud.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry