I hadn’t known him long
But I’d sure call him a friend.
A bunch of us had gathered at the River
To set his ashes free upon the wind.
By the crowd that had assembled
He had touched a lot in his short life.
Most stood in somber silence
And others consoled his wife.
They had rode life’s trail together
For more than sixty years.
She gently swiped a kerchief
To hold back a falling tear.
His son, he came up to me
Said, “My Pa would sure be glad you came.
It means a lot to Ma and me
I just hope I can live up to his name.”
He handed me a piece of paper
A picture of his dad on a horse,
A quotation there on the bottom that said,
“Keep your saddle tight and try to stay on course.”
Then he said, “We’d better get started
My dad hated to make people wait.
He used to tell me when I was younger
Get in or get out but don’t stand there in the gate.”
So I thank you all for coming he said
This was Dad’s most favorite place.
He liked the smell of the sage in bloom
The cottonwood trees, the river and wide open space.
He’d come here and just sit and listen
Said this is good place to rest and think.
With shade and bluestem grass
And water nearby to drink.
My dad he grew up a cowboy
Just like the generations that came before.
Settled here in the 1870’s
A family known for survival, integrity and lore.
Before the post or the stretching of the wire
Before the scaring of the plow,
They set out to make a living
With family, horse and cow.
He took over this ranch
Raised a family and taught life’s lessons.
At times there wasn’t much money
But he taught us to count our blessings.
He left us a legacy, a tradition
To be stewards of the land.
Always work to make it better
Remember your neighbors and lend a helping hand.
Oh my God, how we will miss him
But I know he’s in a far better place.
He has unsaddled for the last time
His bunkhouse is now a heavenly place.
So, I will sum it up this way
We’re sure honored you came out.
To this, our special place at the River
Where wild things grow about.
A place of serenity
This spot of hope and love.
His place of tranquility
Sent forth from Heaven up above.
I watched in silence
As they scattered him in the wind.
Saw the expressions of the loved ones
As tears flowed down faces of family and friends.
They led his horse up to the bank
His companion and his friend.
He too stood in reverence
Paying tribute to the wind.
As the crowd began to scatter
I took his son by the hand.
Held a trembling forearm, and knew
His son had just became a man.
I offered my last regards to his widow
Got in my truck and drove away.
Just driving there in silence
His son’s words, I can hear him say.
“Keep your saddle tight
And try to stay on course.
I hope I can fill his shoes
Will I ever be able to ride his horse?”
There was a gentle breeze stirring
A cool, calm refreshing wind.
As I pondered what was the meaning
Of a person, someone called a friend.
Was it what you had accomplished?
Or maybe all that you had acquired.
The sum of cattle and horses
Huge amounts of grass behind a wire.
Or was it what everyone needs
A house, a home filled with love.
Green grass and plenty of water
With clear skies up above.
It made me stop and think
This feller had figured it out.
The true meaning of life
What living is truly about.
He only took what he needed
Giving much more in return
Knowing that everyday was a lesson
Always something to be learned
To leave it better than it was
You have that obligation
To your family and the land
No matter the situation
He was a man who spoke few words
But they resonated with thought
They stood a lasting testimony
To life and the struggles he had fought
His take on life was like those ashes
That drifted so gently in the wind
Settle down with the land and family
Just try to be a friend.