When I was a small girl you took me to work cattle with you. We were gathering a large group of horses (which were pretty wild), and as we rode together another cowboy yelled out they had found them. It spooked the group of horses and they began to run towards us. It was a traumatic experience as I heard their hoofs pounding against the ground, they surrounded us, and began to sniff and bite at my horse which caused my horse to want to kick and fight back. I screamed, I cried and you yelled. I don't remember your exact words, but you pretty much told me to suck it up and stop crying. Horses can smell fear, and I was going to get through this but I had to calm down. You rode over to me, picked me up and put me in a deer blind.
That experience taught me a lot, and even though it was terrifying I got over it. You however did not. As I grew older you told me how you continued to have nightmares about that day. You had nightmares about many of our adventures (falling off a horse, being drug by a horse). Everything turned out fine, yet your mind and heart couldn't let it go. All of those tough experiences I had with you made me who I am today. Strong, independent and confident. You and Mom did that.
In the midst of a busy day or during a moment of free time at home, I will glance at a photo of you on my phone. In that moment, everything around me stops. I am completely consumed by your face, your eyes, your mustache, your glasses. I zoom in to your eyes, so I feel like your are looking right at me and talking to me. It's the most surreal experience, because I immediately think, How are you not here right now? How are you gone? Why are you not on this earth? I become angry and sad. Why so early? You could have lived another 30 years! I want my babies to know you and learn from you. I want you to teach them how to ride a horse.
I can't change what has happened, and as I grieve I try not to dwell on what could have been. Today, I remember your life and the memories we shared. Turner and I talk about you often, and he always says "PawPaw is riding a horse right now in heaven." It takes everything within me to not completely fall in to a puddle of tears. I reply "Yep...he's having a blast, and one day we will join him." Happy Birthday Dad, we love you. Words can not express how much we miss you.