Sunday, June 29, 2014

Goodbye, Cowboy Bill

Dress (Nine West, Steinmart); Bag (Nine West, Macy's)
Last week was incredibly busy, both at the office and with extracurricular commitments.  I'm not complaining, but I was looking forward to some down time on the lake and on the golf course over the weekend.  We had a family reunion near my hometown on Saturday afternoon, and I'd been wavering all week about whether to go - not that I didn't want to see family, but sometimes you just want to do, well, nothing.  Late Friday night, however, I received a text from my Mom that a dear family friend had passed away and the memorial service was scheduled for Saturday morning.  In that moment, I knew that making the drive a couple of hours north for both the funeral and the family reunion was the right decision.  

It was a hot and muggy Saturday morning, so a cotton sundress was in order, though as I got dressed, I did consider briefly the idea of cowboy boots in a nod to the memory of Bill, a transplanted Arkansas cowboy, who I don't think I ever saw in anything other than a pair of well-worn boots (usually with a denim jacket and true cowboy swagger).  Bill had been a friend to my family since I was a year old.  A colleague and mentor to my mother, he was a consistent part of our lives for many years, and I have fond memories of him from the time I was a small child until I became an adult.  In fact, the blanket he and his lovely wife, Joan, gave us as a wedding present nearly 17 years ago is still tucked in the antique pine trunk that serves as a coffee table in our family room, and gets used regularly on chilly evenings by the fire.
Sandals (Lindsay Phillips Switchflops with custom floral clips from JoAnn Fabric); Watch (Steinmart)
Bill was a larger than life character, yet as down to Earth as they come.  For many years, he had two enormous St. Bernards, his friendly furballs and partners in crime, who he regularly spoiled with pick-up truck trips to town for ice cream cones.  He always had a hug for me, but I learned to expect good-natured teasing, as well.  He was particularly fond of ribbing me about the time I took a high school summer job washing and waxing school buses and thought it was a good idea to cover a bus in turtle wax and let it dry overnight before wiping it off.  TIP:  unless you want to scrub until your arms fall off, DON'T DO THAT!  

Random memories floated through my head as we drove to the church, my favorite being of annual horseback-riding parties at Bill and Joan's farm.  I loved the trail riding and campfires, and they always served homemade donuts on the tines of an aluminum foil wrapped pitchfork staked upside down in the backyard.  I've always thought that was the coolest thing: a Pinterest-worthy party presentation idea if I ever saw one!  During the service, as I paid my respects to Bill, the memories formed themselves into a little rhyme in my head, set to the tune of The Sound of Music's My Favorite Things:
Donuts on pitchforks and horses for riding;
Hot apple cider and fish that are biting;
Camp-outs and fires in Fall and in Spring;
These were a few of my favorite things.
That's Bill in the middle, at one of the annual horseback-riding weekends (probably in the early to mid-80s).  My Mom is on the left, and another long-time family friend is on the right.
Following the funeral, we spent the afternoon with my paternal grandmother's family, most of whom I see once a year, at most.  I don't often make it to family reunions, but seeing the look of delight on my Grandma Norma's face when she saw I'd decided to attend was the highlight of my day (followed closely by cousin Patsy's homemade strawberry shortcake!)  It's never too late to make new memories, and saying goodbye to Bill reminded me, once again, that every moment spent with my Grandma is a moment to cherish.  I'm grateful for this weekend; I'm grateful for my family; I'm grateful for my friend.  Goodbye, Cowboy Bill.
Making memories with Grandma at the Coleman Family Reunion
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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