Thanks for My Rodeo

Dale Fehringer

Copyright 2019 by Dale Fehringer


Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

As soon as she heard there was a rodeo that night she was on me to take her.

If I have any points built up at all, I’d like to use them to go to the rodeo,” she whispered to me.

It turned out she didn’t have to cash in any points after all, as the long arm of my aunt Esther was on her side. “Go on and take her,” Esther urged me.

So, even though the town was 40 miles away, and we were being encouraged by other relatives to stay for the impending softball game, we got in the car and drove to the rodeo.

There we were, sitting halfway up in the wooden bleacher seats, with the breeze blowing gently in our faces. Someone behind us said they could smell rain in the air. There was lightning, too, off to the west. We hadn’t seen much lightning lately, living in San Francisco, so our attention was a bit divided between the girls’ barrel racing and the occasional streak of yellow that raced to the ground off in the distance.

This was a real rodeo, in a typical small town in the Plains states. There was steer wrestling, and a wild horse race, and even a 4th of July fireworks display. It didn’t matter that the fireworks went off one at a time, nor that there wasn’t room for the “S” on the “100 YEARS” line in the display that honored the centennial of the little neighbor town. We knew that it was BAYARD, not BAYARDS that had been around for 100 years, and we applauded for them along with everyone else.

Because it was a typically small town in the Plains states nearly everyone around us had on boots and cowboy hats. Not the lady sitting on the other side of me, though. She was 86 years old and had just moved here to be near her daughter. “My husband had to stay home tonight,” she told us, “he doesn’t get around very well anymore. Arthritis, you know.” She offered us some of the cotton candy she had bought for her granddaughter. “Used to sell this on sticks,” she proclaimed as she handed me the bag. We had noticed the rich, warm smell of it cooking, and we eagerly accepted her offer. Cotton candy smells better than it tastes, though, and it gets your fingers sticky. Still, it was generous of her to share with us strangers.

Not all the contestants were successful.

All he will take home tonight is what you give him,” the announcer said after a brahma bull bucked off a rider. “He can hear you now, so let’s give him a hand.” And everyone in the stands did.

It made me feel special sitting up there in the bleachers with her, hundreds of miles from our adopted home. And it made me remember how proud these people are of their country when they sang along with “Well, I’m proud to be an American” when it played over the sound system. And it gave me a bit of a tingle and warmed that place behind my rib cage when she kissed me and whispered “Thanks for my rodeo.”

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