I remember sitting at our kitchen table when I was about 10 years old. My mom was helping me cover paper clips with magazine clippings as an art project. We put our creative minds together and occupied that table many times with a box full of art supplies. I remember getting out of bed at sunrise just to catch my dad walking out the door in the morning to ask if I could go to work with him. We lived on a ranch and working cattle in the pastures while on horseback was a daily thing. Daddy taught me how to ride horses at the age of 3 and it was immediately something that brought me joy and that I did for many years thereafter.
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In honor of Fathers Day this month, I’m going to tell you a little about my daddy. We’ll save mamas story for another sunny day.
The Man Himself
Daddy isn’t into card games, video games, or even sports, but that didn’t stop him from attending our extracurriculars while in school.
His wardrobe consisted of, and still does, Wrangler blue jeans and button-down shirts. Oh, and his hat! He never forgets to put his hat on his head and if he does something is really wrong. The locals call him Shorty and he was the first to call when you needed a horse broke or cattle doctored.
Daddy’s humor is uplifting and instantly changes your mood though your sense of humor is also required.
The only time I’ve heard him yell is at the cattle in the pens, when a horse thinks he’s a little too close, or when the dog gets loose.
At times you will see him counting the fingers on his hands in silence. Work is on his mind wherever he goes and he loves it.
Welding, riding horses, and roping were all things I learned at an early age. These things were often activities that made the family money but it was never about that. I think to myself why he wanted to teach his daughter tasks like these as they were suited more for a boy. I look back now through a dust-covered scope and see that the reasoning wasn’t to put me to work or as a replacement for a boy but to teach me to be self-sufficient. Being a girl and a woman doesn’t justify putting a label on me. While my mama did show me how to wash dishes, sit like a lady, and be outgoing, my daddy taught me how to provide for myself if needed.
My brother and I became excellent nurturers throughout the years with every calf or kidd we had to take in and bottle feed. I can’t count how many times Sunshine, Blackie, and Sunny knocked us down with a butt of their heads.
Even though these things were hard work that resulted in sweat, tears, early morning and late nights, he made it enjoyable and he still likes to brag about my abilities to this day.
My daddy was and is a teacher. A great teacher.
Safety was daddy’s main concern always- Gun safety, how to saddle a horse safely, how to interact with animals safely, keeping the family safe, etc. My best nights of sleep are those that I spend at my parent’s house. Peace and comfort at their finest!
I cried. I felt hurt. I felt defeated. I was scared. I felt uncomfortable. I was discouraged. A lot of things were taught and learned on the ranch, but the lifelong takeaway was the ability to persevere. With any new task, you are faced with a challenge that comes along with it and daddy taught me to take that challenge and push forward. He’d always tell me “If you fall get back up again” and his words ring like a bell in my ear when I feel even the slightest doubt.
I didn’t realize it then but these lessons and these memories were all building blocks to the person I would become in the future. Core building blocks that I want to pass down and building blocks that I can’t learn or experience any place better. So as another Father’s Day approaches I’m reminded of just how thankful I am to have learned:
- That a firm handshake means much more than a greeting.
- A woman can do all things a man can (sometimes better).
- My peace is worth more than my pride.
- Just because a horse is still doesn’t mean I should jump on.
- Old country tunes and Latino mix music is mandatory for waking the children in the mornings.
- Doing the dishes and dancing do go well together.
- Sometimes you shouldn’t laugh and giggle in a deer blind if you want to bring something home.
- And sometimes learning the hard way is the only way to really learn at all.
The years may have worn us down, but one thing that will never subside is that I will always be daddy’s little girl.