My Grandpa Was A REAL Cowboy!!

WOW!! We have had some kind of cold weather here in the South!! And NO, we are NOT used to it!! One inch of snow can totally shut down an entire city, so you can imagine how we have dealt with 6+ inches!! Lots of fun, but I am so ready for Spring. Hope all of you are staying warm!

Whenever I remember my Grandpa Selman, an immediate image comes into view…a tall, fit man in a cowboy hat and cowboy boots…and usually on a horse. We lived on the property with my grandparents for much of my early young life. You can imagine how this “man’s man” handled having three little girls under his feet all of the time. I’m sure he was glad to have our little rascal brother come along later on… Although he could come across a little gruff at times, he was just a big ole’ teddy bear that was so tender, gentle, patient, and loving with us. We loved him!!

He was bigger than life to me. I can remember him pulling up a rifle from the hip and taking the head off of a snake that was wound around a fence we were about to approach. He was so good a marksman, he didn’t even have to bring the rifle up to his shoulder and aim…he just shot from the hip. The Rifleman had nothing on him!! I would follow him around everywhere and he taught me quite a lot. He taught us how to care for animals, how to respect nature, how to build, how to lay brick, how to be obedient and respectful…the list goes on and on. On this one particular day he taught me how to stand up for myself.

Some of my cousins lived across the road from our house, and, of course, they would either come over to our house everyday, or we would go to theirs. As children will do, we usually ended up arguing and getting in a fight. I would usually back down and get the “worse for wear” when those “encounters” took place. In other words, my cousin would always win the “fight.” I had no idea that my grandpa had been observing a number of these altercations. On this occasion, after my cousin had gone home, my grandpa sat me on his lap, brushing my tears away. After I had stopped crying, he sat me up where I could look him straight in the eye. He explained to me that I should not back down each time, and let my cousin “run over” me. He went on to say that the next time my cousin came over, and I let him get the best of me, that he was going to give me a spanking if I did not stand up for myself. Now, I know some of you are already in an uproar that anyone would spank a child, but you have to know that my grandfather never, ever lifted a hand to me in his lifetime. I think it would have broken his heart if he had. He would have been the one who ended up crying. Course, being a child, I did not know that he would not follow through on that promise.

So the day began, and my cousin came over to play. And sure as the world, we got into a disagreement, and the shoving began. I was about to let him win, when I happened to see my grandpa standing behind a tree observing the entire incident. That’s all I needed!! I went after my cousin with everything that was in me, and I won that day! I looked over at Grandpa, and he grinned and winked at me. A funny thing happened after that incident…my cousin never picked a fight with me again. There seemed to be a mutual respect between us from that point on.

Now, this is a childhood story, and I certainly am not advocating that people should reconcile their differences by fighting each other. However, I learned a valuable lesson that day. If you allow someone to “run over” you once, they will continue to do so. Who will stand in your defense if you do not know how to do that for yourself? Respect yourself enough to defend who you are and what you believe in. Do it in a mature, communicative, non-violent manner. There’s nothing wrong with standing up for yourself…be strong! That’s what I try to do. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

The Day My Aunt Froze Her Monkey…

OK, so I have your attention with my article title…My little brother is already going to be crying “foul,” because he thinks he came up with it, and keeps telling everyone he is going to write a book, and this will be the title of said book. HOWEVER, he and I definitely share the same humor genes (and ability to get ourselves into all KINDS of awkward situations…), so I am saying we both came up with this title. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it…(If he ever does write said book, I will go ahead and give him permission now to use the title.) So we begin…the story I am about to tell you apparently has several “versions.” I am really not sure which version is totally “chronologically” accurate, but the “facts” remain the same in all versions…

One of the benefits of belonging to a large family is that you end up with an awful lot of cousins. And oh, my, did we ever enjoy growing up together! Every childhood memory of import includes either one, or many, cousins. We shared everything as children…dreams, fantasies, hopes, hurts, losses, laughter, tears, apologies…and always, always, so much love.

My father and uncle worked many years together as speciality carpenters and builders. One day my father came home from work and said that my uncle had been given a little spider monkey by someone for whom they were working. All of us kids were so excited about this new turn of events…a spider monkey!!! We had only ever seen a monkey at the zoo, and now, our cousins actually had one for a pet. Our excitement and enthusiasm to see the little fellow could not be contained! It was all we could do to sleep that night.

The next morning we all got up begging Mama to let us ride over to our Aunt’s house to see the new monkey. OF COURSE, we were allowed to get on our bikes and ride over to see the new “addition” to our family. Oh, he was the cutest little thing you have ever seen! Our cousins named him Oscar. My uncle built the neatest, largest cage for him, and in the coming days we would love on, and play with, Oscar.

One morning, our cousins called, crying and crying, saying that Oscar was dead…that he had frozen in the night. (An unexpected cold snap had come through, and Oscar indeed had frozen during the night.) My Aunt got poor Oscar out of the cage, brought him into the house, and lovingly laid him on the counter in the kitchen. All of us children were properly subdued and tearful. We paid our respects and then went back to our respective homes. It was a very sad occasion for everyone.

In doing daily household chores, my aunt actually forgot about Oscar…that is, until she saw him hopping all over the house. Yes, my friends, Oscar had unfrozen, and had come back to life!!! (This is actually true! I saw him afterwards with my own eyes!) They like to have never caught poor Oscar that day. Once they did, they made certain that he was kept warm during the cold nights, and he lived a very long life thereafter. The cousins were thrilled beyond measure!

So many times in our own lives we give up on situations and people too easily. We discount them so readily…and just maybe they still have a lot to give and do in this life…and be in ours. I am going to concentrate on not giving up on people…I will keep believing that they still have a lot of “life” in them and deserve my support and loyalty. Won’t you join me? Just for this week…