This old cowboy told me last night that he loves me like a daughter. He’s worked for this outfit, for my dad, since I was 8 years old. He’s watched me grow from that freckle-faced girl who had a knack for being in the way, getting stung by wasps, and falling off her horse to the gal I am today.
Yes, he had stopped at the Jersey Lilly on his way to me last night and consumed a couple bottles of confidence there. Yes, he has been branding with the crew — think 3 a.m. mornings and long, hot days — for almost a month now, and is operating in that state of exhaustion where every emotion is threatening to bubble over. It was late evening when he said it, and he was high on the excitement of the crew come here to the VX for two days of branding, and it was about time for everyone to hit the bedrolls.
Still, it’s not the first time he’s tried to express his fondness for me. Once before this old cowboy, who has no children of his own, reminded me that he’s always thought of me as a daughter, but at the time I was in a huff and so pretended I didn’t hear him.
But though an unexpected declaration of fondness might be a little awkward, isn’t it an attempt that needs to be rewarded in the (sober) light of day? He cowboyed up and by golly said something that might make a difference… isn’t that worth recognition? That he still loves me even though I’ve snubbed him many times… doesn’t that show character? That he knows me this well (he watched me grow through my adolescence and teen years, into a newlywed and a coworker, now into a mother with three little kids he loves to tickle) and, despite having witnessed many of the faults I’ve displayed through the years and though many others by now might have given up on me, still loves me like a daughter… well, that’s a good reason to love him right back.
We’re born to blood relatives… but can’t our family be extended to include the people God has put within our reach?
Love you too, Verg. And your stories about “down there in Wyoming.”
* wink *
© Tami Blake