Monday, October 26, 2009

The Farrier . . . conclusion

There, beneath the saddle blanket, was Dad's shoeing box. My eyes filled with tears immediately.

Grief hits people in different ways and at different times, but grief must run its course. Driving to the funeral home to pick up Dad's remains was difficult but not unexpected. When I saw the box, however, the loss hit me fully.

He wasn't coming back.

He wasn't just on another part of the ranch or watching rodeo or baseball in the house.

He was gone.

Everything was as he had left it. The metal box had various handles sticking out of the front and other handles in their special holders on the sides. The top had two compartments filled with horseshoe nails. Neatly rolled, soft leather chaps were tucked on top of the files, rasps, assorted clippers, and hammer.

How many times had I watched him perform that task?

The chaps were the first to go on and the last to be put away. Several times per day he'd lift that heavy anvil from his truck to its stand (that he had made himself) and fire up his stove. When my brothers and I were younger, Dad would pay us twenty-five cents for each horse we held. We knew we would be earning our money, too, because he never needed anyone to hold the gentle ones.

With lead ropes in our hands and dire warnings to pay attention, we'd watch Dad remove old shoes, clip overgrown toenails (and toss them to the waiting ranch dogs who loved him for that), file everything smooth, measure the shoe, heat it in the stove, pound it with the hammer to shape it perfectly, then nail it onto the hoof. After clipping the horseshoe nails shorter he'd use a special tool to bend them down, then he'd hammer them in so nothing stuck out. More filing and neatening, then he'd be finished.

One by one he would put his tools back where they belonged. We'd be thankful when the anvil went back into the truck, but when he reached down to unbuckle the chaps, we knew we were moments away from our reward: a soda and a candy-bar.

The last time my girls and I saw him, I was thrilled when he carefully watched them ride, calling out instructions in a calm voice, just as he had with me. I had no fear for them because he was there and I knew he would stop that horse.

He also tossed horseshoes with them and gave them a roping lesson.

I loved it.

I think Dad could do the math and realized it was unlikely we'd see him again this side of heaven. He made a point of connecting with his granddaughters (Ty wasn't with us) and recording the visit with photos. I'm so thankful that he did.

My life with Dad can be summed up with some words from a song by Reba McEntyre, though not all of them fit (her song is a little harsher than it needs to be for my situation). I've included her lyrics in italics, but the end was changed by me.

The greatest man I never knew . . .

Lived just down the hall . . .

And every day we'd say hello . . .

But never touch at all.

He was in his paper,

I was in my room.

How was he to know I thought he hung the moon?

James J. Dutton
January 31, 1921 - October 3, 2009


agable said...

I am so sorry about your dad. I never know what to say in difficult situations like these, but know that you are on my heart and in my prayers. Love you lots!

Allie said...

What a lovely tribute to your dad. I especially loved the farrier stories. I'm sorry about your dad. Much love!

DaDaHaZaReJe said...

Beautiful tribute!!

Anonymous said...

Oh Curly,
I miss him so bad. But, I am so greatful that my son had him in his life. He couldn't have been a better Granddad, even if he had been blood kin. I thank God every day for Jeff. And you Mom is the bravest most wonderful wife to have been so devoted to doing every thing his way. I admire her so. Thank you for sharing them with us. Love Wendy, Lester, Pecos and Tiffany

Jessica Leigh said...

Thank you for sharing these intimate glimpses into your dad's life. Sure wish I could have met him!

Raquel said...

Glenna would talk all the time about how she longed to go to New Mexico and stay with them. She talked of how much fun it was and how much she missed it there.

A lovely tribute! I will pray for you and your family!


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