Monday, December 17, 2012

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The passing of an old cowboy

 by Julie Carter

Another old cowboy stepped out into eternity this week with little notice from the world in general but leaving a hole in the fabric of the universe because his simple life mattered more than he knew.

Charlie lived in an RV park just outside of town. He arrived about seven years ago with a tiny old 10-foot trailer in tow. He had been living on a ranch in it with no utilities of any kind. He was worn out, broke and needed some place to call home. The park owner cut him a deal to “watch the far end of the park” in exchange for lower rent.

He finally had heat, electricity and water and was very content. Later someone came along and gave him a fifth-wheel trailer, tripling his living space and adding hot water and a refrigerator to his sparse living. Life couldn’t be better.

His guitar and his dog Wendy were his two constant companions. When folks would bring food to Charlie, he’d feed Wendy first while he sipped a little whiskey. Friends would chuckle and comment that he loved Wendy more than food or maybe he just loved whiskey more than food.

The sounds of his guitar strumming old cowboy tunes would travel through the little valley in the evening, adding a peaceful ambience to the serenity of summer. Life was just that simple for Charlie and the enjoyment others got out of it was a memorable bonus.

About a year ago at a local saloon, he fell off a bar stool and broke his hip. He was more than a little ticked off about the whole deal because by golly, it was his good hip. Ironically the next night, his guitar picking, singing best buddy fell off the same stool and broke his hip. This allowed for a little cowboy quality time together at the hospital while they recovered. Don’t you know the orthopedic ward was never again the same?

These same two old cowboys built a porch on the “barn” that serves as the social center to the RV park. It gave them a place for some summer porch sittin’ and song singin’ with the park residents gathered ’round. Built with whiskey and love, it is fondly referred to as the “porch that Jack Daniels built” and will always be a reminder of Charlie and the good times.

Charlie will be greatly missed and Wendy remains with the park owner for the rest of her life, as was promised.

In our own backyards, there is likely a Charlie. Someone we would think needed or wanted more from life, but is truly very happy with everything just the way it is. Simple and uncomplicated.

Old broke, worn out cowboys aren’t a rarity; they are just a quiet, unassuming by-product of a lifestyle that has no retirement plan.  A few may be living out their latter days in a friend’s bunkhouse where hot coffee and sittin’ a spell for a game of checkers mark the peak of any day. Others, like Charlie, make a way for themselves the best they can, knowing it’s as good as it gets.
Either way, they represent a time and place in this world that we won’t see again. So lean in a little closer and listen to the songs sung by the Charlies of the world. They are the writing on the wall for all of us.

Julie can be reached for comment at

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