By Vickey Stamps
With him having to earn a living in addition to preaching, comforting the sick, the marrying and burying, there weren’t much time to be spending in the little church out at the edge of town.
The Preacher man figured it was safe enough. Folks felt no need to lock doors, especially church doors. It was a small town and folks were mostly friendly like. It felt right to him that them that wanted too, could go in and worship as they were able. The old cowboy slipped inside the door.
He wandered on down to a weathered bench near the front. He supposed he might should of kneeled, but the years of cold and damp had done a fair amount of damage to his joints, and it took more time getting up then getting down these days, so he elected to sit. Had one of the town folks come inside, they might of reckoned him to be on the strange side, what with him talking out loud like he was, his gray head bowed.
“Lord, I hope you don’t mind my being here in these old work clothes. I well may smell like my horse, seeing I spend so much time on him. I like to stop in when I find homes like this one they built for ya, in my travels, so I slipped away from the herd and here I am. The older I get, the more the days get away from me, but I heared one of the crew tell that Thanksgiving was mite near and that means Christmas will be right down the road and on us fore we know it. I ain’t got no idea if I’ll get to visit you like this, during the next couple months, so here I am now. I know you are out there walking or even riding beside me and the others, but it feels mighty special to be here now.
I thought I’d share my memories with you Lord, not that you ain’t got an acquaintance of your own with me. I been thinking on the old farm, my folks and all them brothers and my sister. It’s sure been a long time. Mama musta had it pretty hard having all them boys and only the one girl to help out with the house. Let me think now…There was my brothers Ted, Pete, Aubry, Jed and Thomas, Mack and me, the oldest boy. Little Betsy come along about ten years after me. Ma lost a couple babies. Seemed she just got too tuckered out to care for any more.
I disremember lots of stuff, but I remember how Ma looked sometimes. She’d get a sad tired look to her face and a bowed look had come upon her back. She had a heap of work to do and little help in getting it done. She never complained and found time to make us a home, tend her garden and do the canning for winter. Just when Ma looked like she couldn’t hardly move another step, she’d flour up an old smooth board and toss a slab of bread dough she’d set to rising.
She’d take a bit of this worry and that…or so it seemed, and with the weight of it off her back and into her hands, she’d knead all the sorrow and weariness right into that dough. That dough didn’t stand
a chance. It was well kneaded when she got done. Afore us kids would know it, she’d began to sing some hymns. They seemed to
bring her comfort.
I mostly remember Rock of Ages, cleft for me and then
she’d start in on Amazing Grace. By the time she got done, she’d be smiling. My ma was special that way. Sunday was a day of rest for Ma and Pa and only the ‘gotta do’s’ got done. They’d load us up in the wagon and we’d all go on down the road to church. Most always they’d have a potluck on some spread out blankets and everbody’d visit till night come crawling in, when they’d climb back in the wagons and head for home. Sunday visiting was a catching up time, cause folks live far apart from one another.
Ma’d be up first in the mornings, warming up the house with the old potbellied stove, and putting on some coffee for pa and us older boys. Seems her day started early and ended late when the evening chores and bits of mending was caught up. Pa ended the day reading from the good book kept up on a wood ledge built into the living area. That and church was how I got learned all about ya Lord.
Ma and Pa been gone a long time now, Sis got married and moved a far piece away. Me and some of my brothers took to the range and the cowboying life. I never found no woman would have me, and its late in life to think on that now. A couple of the boys kept up with the ways of farming. Anyway, I just wanted to take time to say I shore do love ya and don’t know how I’d manage this old world without you for my sidekick. I’m right thankful for my memories and they keep me warm in my mind when the nights get cold.
Seems even the cows and the remuda appreciate my knowing them hymnsmy mama sung, cause they get their own dozes of Rock of
Ages and others I still remember.
It was a mighty good thing you done, getting born so’s to to make
my world a better place. You give me such good folks and family to be brung up in. Yep, I know the story of how you done it all, and
I’ll be remembering the gift of your love, by showing some of my own, best I can. I wanna make up gifts for them old boys I’m riding with. I’ve a fair hand with whittling and might oughta bone up some on my writing so’s I can put down a story or so, of the good things
I find in ‘em along with a little critter I could whittle.
I got that old book that my Dad read from, and sometimes when folks get troubled, they come to me and together we find ways out of their troubles with the answers you got in there. I sure appreciate you doing all you done for me. I hope you know I’m thankful and I’ll be looking forward to celebrating your birthday right soon.
Reckon I better cut this short and be on my way. It’s put me to peace being in your house. I’m heading out to ride that range some more, let someone else have some resting time. Maybe a few’ll
come and visit some with you like I jest done. Thanks Lord …
Life Was Good!