8 Second Rule- Cowboy Up Girls!

8 Second Rule Cowboy Up Girls!

Mom’s Home
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My mother grew up in the Sandhills of the midwest on a small ranch during the 1940’s to the 1950’s. Her parents both came from modest means but of strong European roots. My grandfather, William was from Ireland and grandma, Francis, a transplant from Minnesota originally from Czechoslovakia. A chance meeting at a midwest barn dance brought these two very different people together, love kept them together.

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For my mother life on the ranch as one of five wasn’t always easy, but it was easy to develop a life long love of horses, cowboys and rodeos. Back in the day the local rodeo was the premier rodeo for aspiring professional cowboys aiming to win the big belt buckle and prize money. The late summer annual event would draw cowboys from all over the country rolling up in dusty trucks and trailers to compete at the competition to name the best all around cowboy.

Canasta by Kerosene
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On the ranch the family shared memories, learned to read paperback westerns by kerosene on cold windy winter nights, and became experts at card games like Canasta to pass the time. William and Francis managed to teach these five children the value of family, instill a midwestern work ethic that would serve them well and most importantly, taught them what the meaning of unconditional love was. They did all of this despite hard economic times, rainy farm roads and no running water or electricity.

How do I know all this? Because as a child we would frequently visit the farmĀ and somehow every time we passed the end of the county road and the neighbors family farm headed toward grandma and grandpa’s house something magical happened. It’s hard to describe, but I’m not the only one who felt it. Ask any of the other grandchildren or family friends who all seemed to line up to volunteer to accompany us on a weekend trip to the farm.

Time stood still at the old weathered white farmhouse. Others had telephones, electricity and running water with improvements such as indoor plumbing, while grandma and grandpa didn’t, but I have never been somewhere that felt so spiritual as their simple family farm.

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Picture this, the county road ends with its well-maintained lane, turning into a simple rut filled lane. The fields on either side are a deep green hue as the Alfalfa seasons rolled past through the hot weeks of summer.

The road ends in the neglected yard at the farmhouse. Their house is the last one at the end of a string of more prosperous family businesses but this is where the magic began and my words will not do it justice but I will try.

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The farmyard looked over and down a hill passing the barn and old house, which most recently served as home to the pigs! But beyond the weathered old buildings you could see the creek melting into the river, silver slices against the green fields and cedar trees!

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Screen Door Slapping in the Sun
In the house you entered through a weathered screen door that I can still hear slapping behind us kids a 1000 times a day, into the porch that had settled at a kilterend angle into the thick soil below. The kitchen was somehow the heart and soul of this simple home and as you entered you’d be wrapped in the warm aromas of cherry pie, cinnamon rolls or maybe roast, potatoes and carrots. The ancient cook stove in the corner radiated a glow to the entire room and pulled all who entered this home into the living chamber beyond.

The next room was the dining room but this is where grandpa sat in his old weathered leather rocking chair looking out the window at his land or at the TV in the corner. Old rabbit ears tentatively placed on top, to watch the nightly news or Lawrence Welk, the only two shows that ever seemed to come through the static.

The table was where grandma pulled us together in stitches of love through her meals. We ate together, we read together, we played and we prayed together right at this table, a circle of love for all times.

It’s hard to describe how such simple people, in their weathered farmhouse, could draw their family together like they did at this wooden table. Politics, history, crops and weather were discussed in detail, the world, while far removed from this place, was still very much a part of these lives. We read books by the dozen so even though exposure was limited we learned about the world through the words of many different authors.

This is where my mom grew up believing in family, love, education, faith and possibilities.

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Whenever we’d go to the rodeo with mom she’d tell stories of how as a young girl she wanted desperately to compete as a barrel racer, or as a rodeo queen. She even confessed on many an occasion to me that she’d also wanted to ride the bull and how she’d always had a thing for bull riding wild cowboys!

I lost my mom a few years ago and while I’m still learning to live without her I am figuring out what to do with the lessons she taught me. I believe. I dream. I hold the ones I love dear. I love an adventure. I have a thing for cowboys.

The anniversary of my mom’s passing is coming up again, and every time this happens I am flooded with memories and longing to just hear her voice again. This year my sister and I met up at a country western bar for a healthy dosage of good music and cowboys, but we also rode the mechanical bull in tribute to my mom and all the lessons she and grandma taught me.

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As I faced the bull I closed my eyes for just a moment and imagined my tiny mom secretly longing to face the biggest, nastiest rodeo bull. When it was my turn and I prepared to ride the mechanical bull I could see the bull in my mind and hear him snort as he sized me up. Once on the steel beast, I grabbed the rope and squeezed hard with my legs. Why do I think my mom wanted to ride the bull? I think it has more to do with her adventurous spirit and her willingness to face the uncertainties of life and just try to hang on, giving whatever the challenge her best effort. Mom’s life had it’s ups and downs, but no matter what she never gave up on the values she learned on the farm, she believed in family, love, education, faith and possibilities.

The bull my sister and I rode was far friendlier than the real version but still not easy to ride. In true western spirit we climbed on, held tight, threw our left hand in the air and rode with all our might, trying to make it past the 8-second rule.

Strong women love fearlessly. They dream big and they know how to “cowboy up” when life gets tough!

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Thanks mom for the lessons in life and the love.

Love you.

So my friend I ask you what’s next on your list?

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