Sunday, April 21, 2013

Still a volunteer I guess :)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. There's many a started and stopped draft in my folders.  

I  wanted to a time or two, out of outrage and out of wanting to share a ‘moment’ and for some reason I’ve gotten out of the habit.

So the other day, I had a chance to help out at a Senior Pro Rodeo.  These cowboys and cowgirls are over 40 and at some point competed at a pro level in rodeo. 

There are a few accommodations made for age and somewhat more brittle bones.  But for the most part these guys  and gals are competing under the same rules and conditions they would in a regular rodeo.

There are a few more for fun  events, like the rope and ribbon event where a roper ropes a calf and gets off their horse to control the calf, while his partner (a woman) snags the ribbon off the calf and races back to the chute.  There’s a lot of good-natured jeering as often enough it’s a husband and wife.

So anyway, I’m sitting at the little table I’m assigned to, selling tickets and because it was slack the crowd was a little thin.  I took advantage and was knitting along on a glove I’m making.

While one of the other volunteers and I were chatting we noticed an older cowboy approaching us. By the way he was holding his body, we could tell he was hurting.

As he came up to us, we greeted him in the way one does and we started talking about the rodeo and how it was going and such like.

He told us about how he’d torn his bicep in a previous rodeo and how that was making him use his other hand for bullriding.  I won’t go into how lipstick came up but we shared a chuckle about his using some bright red lipstick to mark his hand so he’d remember to tie in with the correct hand.

I’d offered him an advil jokingly as he had joined us and now he turned to me and said that he needed far more than an advil.  I agreed, nodding at his arm.  He said, well yes, that and my son died last night.

The other volunteer and I just… stared at each other.  We didn’t know how to answer him as he’d spoken in such a matter of fact tone.  Of course we expressed our sympathies at his loss but the conversation had come to a standstill.

He went on to tell us how his son had been disabled and how it wasn’t unexpected but still felt sudden all the same. He mentioned how everything felt out of kilter, like he'd forgotten to do something.

What floored us both was his indication that he was riding that night.  I understand that. Sometimes when life has taken an extreme corner or reversal, something usual is very welcome to give an oasis in the storm of the change.

This man, well past the age most people would consider tying themselves to a bull for the chance of an 8 second ride.  His body in pain from the injury to his arm and his heart hurting from the loss of his son, he was still going to compete; for that was his usual.

This is why I volunteer to work at rodeos; these glimpses of the real definition of ‘cowboy up’.