by Steve Yost, class of 2000
In all my seventy-six years, I never thought it was going to come to this. Well in the early years we were all just tough as an old boot and just as common and comfortable. Work, well it was something to be enjoyed and every day brought a new sunrise and with it new time with the cattle and the boys. We rode hard, worked hard and there was always a good time involved, even in the bad times. We could get a dip from each other and there was always Bull Durham. There was not always the cold beer or a whiskey to chase it with. Those seemed to be luxury days, when a fella could go down to whiskey row and start at one end, just to oil up his insides.
Then there were the boys, someone you had rode with, calved with or wintered through with. He knew you as well as you knew yourself, or your horse. He knew just how you built your loop. He could tell your days and feelings. There was the trust.
Then there was the morning cough, and the days when all you could get down was water and the boss got you into this doc that came to town about once a month. Just a young-un, but he seemed down to earth. He seems to understand living free and loving the range and the life. He seems to understand the good times and on top of it all, he didn't preach about changing, 'least not at this point in your life. I think he understands God's handiwork; watch a hawk hunting or a mother cow with a new calf on the ground. Now he tells me I've a cancer in my throat. He says it'll kill me if I don't let him take it out. He tells me that if he does take it out, I lose my voice and have a hole in my throat.
I've never thought of myself as a vain man, but this may be a bit more that I could take. After all the miles, after the wrecks on some ill tempered old rip, after the Rocky Mountain blizzards and the strays and long days and short nights, wintering a herd, well it just don't seem quite right. I know the good Lord has had cause to notice me here on this big ol' planet, and more often than not, I ain't been one of his proudest moments. ... but still this just don't seem right. I think I'll have to spend a little time on this one, ponder it through a bit and see if maybe the Lord has something to tell me about this fork in the trail.
That young doc, well he was real good about the whole thing. He didn't try to push or nothing like that. I appreciate that. Some things, you just gotta pick your own way across the ford. I think he knows that. I'll have to remember to thank him for that. I think I forgot that when I left his office. He'll understand. I would like just one more spring, moving cows to summer range in the high country, watching the grass come green and the water open with the warm weather. Watching the new calves get licked down and find their legs. Watching them learn to run, tails straight in the air, with a jump straight up and a kick sideways. Just watching them carry on like a bunch of kids just out of the schoolroom on a spring afternoon. Riding night watch, with camp coffee and biscuits at breakfast with the sunrise to take in. Yes Lord, if you could see your way clear to just one more spring, I'd be beholden' to you, and could better accept anything that you choose to send my way.