from Grandad ...
is dedicated in part to one of my most loved and influencial
people in my life, my Grandfather, Stan Clark. His love of people,
horses and his gererosity has left an indelible mark on my life.
away in his mid-eighties a few years ago. A lifetime
of dustbowl teaching, rousing baseball, a world war, road
weary grain buying, his own family and grandkids raised, whisky
warmed bird and antique hunting, dog training, umpteen stories
told and embellished along the way, and last, but certainly
not least, some excellent horses under him (a fair number
of appaloosas). He walked and talked the world of a generation
guy who loved to chit-chat (my sister caught him talking to
a fellow over his shoulder in a diner booth once, in his later
years...turns out it was a mirror!). Still, he passed on many
jewels of knowledge throughout my life.
was about seven or eight after I had a scrap with one of my
friends. I found him downstairs in his shop working on an
electric motor. I complained about my buddy. He held out his
leathered paw. "In life youíll be able to count the number
of your true friends on one hand." He tightened his fingers,
"You have to learn to hang on to them."
I know? Every kid I went to school with was my friend. More
little lessons continued on to my teenage years, "Anyone out
past midnight is either drinking or having sex!"... Oh, how
me how to whittle away at small townlife , as I carved a childhood
for myself in that little prairie town. The picture above
is Grandad over visiting one of his ol' time buddies, Claude
Parkinson. He and Claude would hang out talking while Claude's
wife would stuff my cheeks and pockets full of cookies. I
learned to appreciate the old times AND those old timers!
collerbone at nine after being thrown off a horse, "Sit down
and shake it off!" This of course caused my mother tremendous
concern when she learned of a break at hospital.
spending countless summer hours romping around our horse ranch
on the edge of town. He had the horses and also raised cattle
about 15 miles north of town. I'll never forget my twelve-year-old
horror...as our shetland mare, Dolly, came hopping up to me
one fateful spring day with a front leg swinging freely at
the knee. When I saw her, I was savvy enough to know
it was the end of her...and from there on in...the end of
every gopher I came across.
called to Grandad, it was one of only times I saw the glitter
of a tear in corner of his eye. We sat side by side on the
tackroom steps. "She won't feel a thing." he said, "I'll call,
Al Rose", (our neighbor across the highway). When I asked
exactly what would happen, he told me, "I learned a long time
ago, you never want to shoot a horse, and you never watch
a horse being shot. Go home now, these are things we just
need to forget."
a generous guy, passing off $5 to anyone in need. Even when
I was grown and out on my own, occasionally he'd cushion our
handshake with a wad of bills, "Keep some money in your sock
drawer...here, I found this in mine, put it in yours."
of my good old Grandad are still triggered every so often.
That cool, musty breeze off a fall stubble field takes me
back to hopping out of bed at 4 a.m. for a bird hunt. Freezing
in a pit and waiting for faint honks out of the morning mist.
days, the creak and slap of oiled leather or tickle of hay
dust in my throat takes me back to a ten-year-old stomping
out of the tackroom ready to ride. Or alfalfa sweetened barn-air
in winter at midnight, and the heatened blast of a labored
mare preparing to foal, in one instance lead to the delivery
of Grandad's beloved appaloosa stallion, Shawnee!
rings especially true from my Grandad. Somewhere in his late-seventies,
he had come to my uncleís house, in the city where I lived.
Usually, when we visited and parted ways, he padded his hanshake
with roll of bills that he, 'found in his sock drawer.' In
this case, I hadn't seen him in a while and he had called
me over for a visit. He was snoozing and just rousing from
his afternoon 'siesta'. I sat on the edge of his bed to catch
up with him, he asked me to lean forward, saying he had something
for me. When I did, he hugged me closer than he had in years,
I felt his whiskered face against my cheek, like when I was
a kid and he spoke softly in my ear.
to tell you something...I sure do love ya."
came to emotions, he was a man of few words. I knew that he
meant it. Take some words of wisdom from my dear Grandad and
don't forget to pass on this last little lesson to the ones
you care about.