This weekend we lost Cowboy’s grandmother Roxy. After too many years of fighting cancer, Roxy left us to remember her, miss her and love her. For me, as the new addition to the family, it has been my chance to get to know her as the person she was and the family she leaves behind. It has been an incredible honor.
As a rancher’s wife, Roxy did not just watch ranch life happening from the house, she was in the middle of it, pouring her own share of blood, sweat and tears into the land, cattle and children. Her life was not always fair, rarely easy, and often times, less than beautiful, but it was real and meaningful to her cowboy, her family and her community.
I got to know Roxy best in the last few weeks of her life with family and friends gathered and telling stories of her life. This is a lady that could run any piece machinery and back up a cattle truck for loading effortlessly. I laugh as I imagine Jim’s reaction when neighbors started calling to ask if Roxy could help them haul cows the next weekend. What about him? And I will always remember that Roxy and friends once decided that they girls wanted to go to town too one evening but the cowboy husbands had left them without a vehicle, or so they thought. Roxy fired up the tractor and off they went to town. I bet they surprised the hell out of their men. Sounds like something my girlfriends and I would do. The truth is that this ranch life isn’t just about calving, branding, haying, shipping, feeding, and repeat. It’s about family. And life. And mostly, love. It takes love to get out of bed every morning to get chores done. It takes love to work tirelessly for something that may never earn you the respect, admiration or paycheck you deserve. It takes love to face a disease like cancer head on, not once but twice. And it takes love to leave this life with the courage and dignity that Roxy showed us all in her last weeks.
Like all great matriarchs, Roxy was the steady force in her children’s lives, in her husband’s life, in the ranch’s life. She was their rock, the glue that held everything together – in good times and bad, during feast and famine. For my part, I was not finished learning from Roxy. Besides being married to very similar cowboys, I like to think that Roxy and I shared similar artistic inspiration. Roxy painted ranch scenes, many of the same scenes I write about. There are many stories left to tell and many scenes left to paint, but I know that Roxy will still hear my stories and I know that she will still paint.
Roxy said she would live long enough to see our wedding. And she did. We were so happy and grateful for that blessing on our big day. And although we hoped she would be there to see our children born, we know that she will be watching all of us, and she will be smiling. The last time I saw Roxy and we talked, I wanted to tell her all of this but I simply could not get the words out. I wrote them down later to share with her and God in prayer.
Thank you for this incredible family. Thank you for your strength, courage and love. Thank you for fighting as hard as you have so that we would have time to prepare ourselves and learn the lessons we need to in order to carry on. Thank you for the inspiration and memories – I will take good care of them. Thank you for your life and love. I will remember you, our children will know who you were, and I will think of you often.
All of my love,