Being Fully Present Matters 

            My time on earth is precious to me - as is yours - and it becomes more precious with each passing day. Whilst I am still here, there is no place I would rather be than with others who are like minded in this respect; those who choose to be more than merely physically present, and who make the decision to be spiritually, emotionally and mentally present in life whether alone or with others.  
    I will never accept that not giving another human one’s complete attention is merely “the times” and “a new way of communicating and sharing,” and that I need to get with those times. From what I see, “the times” and “a new way of communicating sharing” leave not only me feeling disrespected, set aside, alone and left out, but also many other folks. The younger folks are feeling this, even if they cannot name it. That feeling of aloneness, separateness, and being disrespected creates hard edges on people, especially young people. They get tough, indifferent to others (if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em) and angry at a world of people who are not treating them right. Today’s 20 and under group was raised in these disrespectful, spiritually barren times, sometimes by emotionally and mentally disengaged parents - often I have seen a child who can not yet walk given an electronic device to entertain itself with. The 20 and unders may not even know what real respect is, or understand the need for face to face, eye to eye conversation and so, they suffer from the lack of what they cannot name or define. They suffer from malnutrition of the soul brought on by human connection deficiency.  It has a real name: Failure To Thrive. 
            And, it is not only the younger generation who suffer. Adult onset failure to thrive is just as real and perhaps more deadly. Speaking from personal experience, when conversation is instantly interrupted by the ding, and people who I am conversing with choose to immediately answer a text message or check how many likes they have acquired on social media, I feel as though my very presence is of such low value that I can be put “on hold” and I fight an overwhelming urge to leave the room.  I say with certainty that an “emergency” text is extremely rare. Is it more disrespectful to delay answering a text - or looking to see who it is - than to disengage with a person who is present in order to respond to someone who is not present, effectively giving the non present person and what they have to “say” more value?  Once, while out for dinner with friends and having what we thought was great conversation, one person backed their chair away from the table and began to engage with their phone. They purposefully and effectively chose to leave the group, but felt as though they still had the right to remark on half heard discussion. That behavior is rude and disrespectful and hurtful.  
    There are so many necessary factors in life which keep us from spending time with our friends and loved ones. Don’t let factors you can control keep you from being fully engaged when in their presence. Time flys so fast, is gone forever and cannot be recovered. I wonder, if after the loss of a loved one or a friendship, how many people regret not paying attention, regret not being fully present, regret being on social media in the presence of or while on the phone with others and not really hearing or properly responding to the last words spoken to them. If the "conversation" took place in person, is there regret for not looking into the eyes, not seeing the facial expressions of the person speaking to them?  Do they wonder what they missed? Do they wonder if the other person noticed their distraction, their obvious preference and deliberate choice, to be mentally elsewhere rather than present? I will answer that, yes, they noticed.  
      I hope that you always choose to be fully present, with every fiber of your being on task. Each moment you choose not to be fully present is a waste of precious time - mine and yours. I promise to make every endeavor to never waste your time.

The Time I Sprung Dad Out Of Jail 

          

     I sprung my Dad from jail.

     That’s what he said, anyway. What really happened was he was unjustly incarcerated in a nursing home where, for all intents and purposes, he was tied to his bed twenty four hours a day except for a wheelchair ride to therapy and a shower. 

 
    He was there for more than a week before I knew about it. Parents develop a habit of not telling their children everything and, when they do tell, it is not always during the course of the event in which they sure could have used a helping hand. I catch myself committing the same offense and know first hand the not telling is because I do not want to intrude on the lives of my children. I do not want to interfere with schedules and jobs, not wanting to become a burden or worry as I get older.  


    By the time I could arrange care for horses and a dog, it was few days before I boarded a plane for Ohio. My always indispensable childhood and now, adulthood, friend, Carla, picked me up that cold and snowy November evening at Columbus Airport and drove me to Beavercreek, where she and I grew up together.  I am sure no one in the nursing home had ever before witnessed the scene we created simply by showing up as ourselves. I am also sure we are now the stuff of much embellished legend, a story told in amaze around nursing home water coolers, or dining rooms, or where ever it is staff and patients share stories about the crazies they encounter daily.  

    Carla, who does not acknowledged the existence of the word “blend” except in relation to her paintings, is blessed with glorious crown of very long, very curly, very red hair always worn loose and flowing. She dresses in brightly colored caftans, throwing on a monk’s hood cape to go out in the cold. Tonight was no exception, with the addition of fur lined moccasin boots and a long, heavy wool scarf wound around her neck.  Carla, like me, has always “walked with a purpose” as Mom used to say. No dilly-dallying, forward movement with intent, like a freight train, so get out of the way.  
   Having flown in from Arizona where I have lived for over twenty five years, and knowing I would be in cold, wet weather, I was wearing hard denim jeans, low heeled Western boots, a grey woolen frock coat and my custom, Bronco Sue felt hat.  
    When we arrived at the nursing home a heavy snow was being whipped a bitter cold wind. The flakes did not melt when they landed on us, instead they accumulated on our shoulders and hats very quickly as walked the fifty yards or so to the main entrance. We burst though the doors carrying snow and cold air swirling in our wake. The wall ahead of us bore the room indicators which we instantly deciphered and hung an immediate left, continuing shoulder to shoulder at that freight train pace. Wide eyed nurses and care givers fell away out of our path, patients in wheel chairs and walkers watched us pass them by, their eyes lit up in surprise. No one stopped us or questioned us. No one followed us to see where we were going. 
    When we blew into Dad’s room and he was lying flat on his back in bed, Mom at his side in a plain, office type chair. He saw us come in, his eyes lighting up with surprise and happiness. I went right to him and bending over his bed, hugged him. When I pulled back he had tears on his cheeks. He still had a grip on both of my arms so I could not stand up all the way. 
     I asked him, “Daddy, are you afraid to be here?” 


     “Yes,” he spoke quietly. “ I am afraid.” 


    “Why, Daddy?” 


    He looked at me for a long moment, choosing his words carefully just like he always did. Finally, “They aren’t mean here, they are just stupid. They are going to hurt someone because they don’t know what they are doing.” 


    “Daddy,” I said. “Mom and I are both here with you now and we will stay until bedtime. The first sunny day, we are taking you home.” 


    He nodded and smiled a little.  
    I turned to hug and kiss Mom who was holding hands with Carla. Carla stayed a few minutes to visit then took her leave to work her way home through the storm, promising to stop by the house when Dad got home. She would love to come and help decorate the Christmas Tree. 


    Dad’s room was small, though there were two beds, the other one empty. I sat on the edge of Dad’s bed and we talked for a long time.  About the snowy weather, about Arizona. About the horses and Cowboy, my Border Collie. About the border issues which always make national news and, even though we talked regularly on the phone, they wanted to hear the latest. Dad told me I should run for office to help straighten that mess out. I said I would never get voted in, that no one really wants to address the border issues and they darn sure don’t want to hear the truth about it, makes for boring evening news. He laughed.  


    “So, just how did you get your self in lockup anyway, Daddy?”  Mom had given me the details on the phone but I wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth.     

    Dad said he had been working in the yard, shoveling five ton of pea gravel around the flower beds surrounding the house. As he quit for the day he fell on the porch at the front door hitting his head on the concrete.  He made it in the house and, insisting he was fine, ate dinner and went to bed.  Later, Mom found him with a high fever and called an ambulance. He spent a few days in hospital and then was sent to the care home to rehabilitate. He didn’t like being there one bit at all. He said the first few days he was there he didn’t have a room. He was in a big room like an emergency room with just curtains separating six beds. Patients were wheeled in and out at all hours of the day and night. One night, he was sure the other beds in the room were being used by the staff to have sex, he hoped with each other and not the elderly patients. Wow! It was unlike my father to say any such thing and, considering his fearful state, and that I never knew him to over react, I believed him.  


    “Did you say anything about it, Dad?” 


    “What’s to say?” he shrugged. “Who would believe a feverish old man without his hearing aids?”  


     When they finally gave him a room he was kept flat on his back. Under him was a pad device to set off all the alarms in the building if he so much as tried to turn over. If he shifted his weight the alarms would go off. He could not sit up. They had him listed as “Fall Risk.” This was nothing new. Dad had been a fall risk most of his life. Some reason unknown caused him to have fainting episodes, lightheadedness. He had tried to enlist and was turned down because of it. Dad had learned to live with it. In all my years I saw him faint only one time. So, I don’t think it was something which happened regularly, just enough to be a concern for the Military.  

    Dad was ready to go home and so was Mom. But, because he had been, and maybe was still sick, and the weather was bitter cold and wet, I could not bring myself to put him in the car that night. Mom and I stayed until after the evening orderly had visited the room, checked Dad’s ostomy bag and given him his night dose of antibiotics. Mom waited in the foyer while I fetched her Lincoln, now covered with snow, and drove it to the door to help her in. She wanted me to drive us home. We pulled in the garage and went in through the pantry. That was the way we kids always ran in and out of the house and it was a warm, welcoming embrace of memories every time I went home as an adult.  
    Mom had gathered Dad’s dirty clothes and brought them home with her to wash and take back in the morning. “Momma, why don’t you go upstairs and get changed, I will start the wash and make us some tea and sandwiches.” 


    “Thank you, sweetie.” she headed up the stairs. I already had a sneaking suspicion about what had been going on. 

 
    When Mom came back down we sat at the kitchen table and ate while she told me again her side of the story about how Dad got sick and ended up in the Hospital. It was the same, pretty close to Dad’s version. She told me she was also very worried about the quality of care he was getting, that no one in the building knew how to change Dad’s ostomy bag and she had to show the care givers how it was done. Several times she had to show them and that was very embarrassing to Daddy.  That is when she started crying and we hugged for a while.

  
      “Mom, are you staying at the care center this late every night?” 


    “Yes, because Daddy is afraid to be there. I usually stay later, sometimes until 11:00 or midnight.”  


    “Do they offer you a bed or feed you?” 


    “Sometimes they offer a foldout bed, and Daddy shares his plate with me.” 


    I was pretty perturbed at that, but tried not to let it show. But, Mom’s know, they know.  “So, then you come home, do his wash, go to bed and get back to the care home by what time?” 


    “Daddy wants me there as early as I can get there. Usually by 7 am.” 


    She had been holding to this routine for at almost two weeks,  probably longer considering the hospital stay. This was going to have to change or Mom was going to be the next one to get sick. I told her the flight and all had worn me out and I would like to go to bed and she asked me to sleep with her. We got tucked in the big master bed, both of us reading and holding hands until Mom dropped off. I turned out the lights.  


    In the morning I called the care center and asked what time Dad went to therapy. They told me at 9a.m. andI asked them to let him know Mom and I would not be there to see him until after his therapy, then reminded Mom that Dad would be busy until after 9:30 so she and I could have a nice, hot sit down breakfast and wait to see if the skies cleared enough so we could bring him home. I think it was the first real breakfast she had eaten in a long time. 


    Dad was already back in his room when we arrived at the care center. He was worried about us since my message had not been delivered. But, when Mom excused her self to “walk down the hallway” I told him my fears about Mom’s late hours and not eating right. “Did you know she was doing that, Daddy?” He did not realize what she was doing, and he nodded at me. I had done the right thing in his eyes.  
    We spent the morning in his room, then I got him to venture to the community room. When he got out of bed and the alarms went off, it was the first time I got noticed. I told the blustery attendant to get rid of that thing or he was going to hear it go off real regular. Off to a great start.  
    In the community room we met some other inmates. There was a woman who poked her head in the door every morning, Dad said. She was always cheery and had a good word for him and Mom. There were others who were sitting around in their wheelchairs watching the T.V. or playing a game, working a puzzle. I asked Daddy why he didn’t come down here every day? Just look at the list of activities they have planned. He shot me the look.  Later, when we were out of earshot of the others, he told me it was a nice enough room, but the hallway was depressing and sad with folks parked all alone in their chairs with nothing to say and blank looks on their faces. Some of them never getting out of bed, always sleeping. He was afraid of dying in that place.  
    One of my sisters and her husband came for a while, but he was fidgety and they didn’t stay long. I ran to Panera Bread Company and brought back hot soup, sandwiches and desserts. Dad ate like he was starving, cleaned his plate. Mom had asked me to bring my guitar that day so I played for them, drawing a little crowd  at the door. Mom pointed out a room across the way where a very elderly woman was bedridden and asked if I would go play for her. Of course. The attendant was in there feeding her. I don’t know if she heard  me or not, but he was smiling and nodding. The music gets folks talking and both Mom and Dad started with stories. A bit later in the evening we were treated to some Carolors who sang their way down one side of the hall and back up the other. When Mom and I went home that night, Dad was much better about it.   


    The next morning, the sun was bright, sparkling off the snow of the last few days. Big, fluffy clouds in the sky, nothing dark and foreboding. 


     “Momma,” I said as we sat with our coffee. “Let’s take Dad’s coat and some warm clothes, we are going to bring him home today.”  


    Her face lit up and she smiled. “You know, they are not going to let us take him out of there without raising a stink,” she said.  


    “Yep, probably. But, it’ll be okay.” I said, thinking, this is going to be a whole lotta fun! 

    When Mom and I arrived the parking lot had been cleared, the snow now heaped up around the edges and under the trees. The sun was warm and there was no wind to speak of, so it seemed quite spring like by comparison to the previous few days. I let Mom out at the entrance and parked the car while she went on to Dad’s room. We had a game plan of sorts. Mostly it was get in there, pack him up and walk out. We knew it would not be that easy but it was a place to start.  
    As I entered Dad’s room, Mom was cleaning out his dresser and closet, his things neatly folded into his suitcase, his coat draped over the end of the bed.  Dad was not in the room so we assumed he was still in his therapy session. Fine, there was less chance of someone coming in the room if Dad was not in there.

      We had all of his things ready to go when Dad was brought back in. The orderly was going to put Dad in his bed, but Dad immediately caught on to our game and told him “No, Thank you,”  and to basically get lost. The orderly buzzed right back out, to tell on us. Within a minute there was a woman at the door, telling us we could not take Dad home without him being signed out by the doctor. I asked when will the doctor come and she said she would find out. I gave her the name of Dad’s doctor and that we would be taking him there right after we left the building, so we were leaving. She asked to see Mom in the office. Mom said she was not going without me. The woman was not happy about that but she had no choice.

  
    The woman asked Mom why she was taking Dad out before he was released. Mom told her because Dad wanted to go home, that none of us felt like he was getting the care he deserved and that we all felt he would be better off at home. Mom told her about no one knowing how to change Dad’s ostomy bag. I told her about no one looking after Mom and about how Dad was basically a prisoner with no rights, tied to his bed and spoken to like he was a child. They were not able to keep track of his medication, Mom had been doing that.  There can be legal repercussions, the woman told us. Let my Mom sign what she needs to sign so we can go, I told her. I am going back to the room so Dad does not think we forgot him. 
    The house rules said Dad had to go out in a wheelchair, so I brought the car to the door and Mom had him waiting there, ready to go. He was already smiling, and he laughed when I asked him if he wanted to drive. Suitcase in the trunk, Momma and Daddy in the back seat holding hands, we drove away.  
     We arrived a few minutes later at Dad’s doctor and walked in. It was mid day but they took him in and with questions all around he was pronounced healthy enough to go home. His doctor had not heard anything from the care center, he did not know Dad was there, only that he had been released from Miami Valley Hospital over two weeks ago. He took me by the elbow to stop me as Mom and Dad left the room.  


     “How long are you staying?” 

    “A couple of weeks, at least, but as long as they want or need me to stay.” 


     “Good. Your Dad is a stubborn man. You know, I just last year got him talked him out of cleaning out the gutters on the house by himself,” he told me and I laughed.  


    “My brother called and was angry, he said to leave Dad in the care home, that he was exactly where he needed to be.  Dad wants to be at home. I didn’t see any reason for him to stay and be scared and miserable.”

 
    “Your Dad needs to be at home, and he is fine. He is old, nothing more.” 


     “Thank you.” 

    We made one other stop for something Mom needed at the drug store and went home to Big Woods Trail. We pulled in the garage and Dad got out first to open the car door for Mom, then we went in the house through the pantry door.       

      As I carried in the suitcase and Mom took our coats to hang up,  Dad stood in the dining room and stretched his back, then he went to the sliding door and opened the curtains so he could see outside into the back yard. Back in the kitchen, he put on a pot of coffee and headed up the stairs to The Library. Mom right behind him on the stairs as if she could catch him if he fell.  
    It was home made beef-vegetable soup and biscuits for supper that night. As Mom and I stood in the kitchen cutting vegetables and mixing dough I looked at Dad in the family room in his blue recliner. His head was back and he was fast asleep, the local paper in his lap. In my childhood days, his pipe would have been resting in the big glass ashtray on the side table, the smell of borhkum riff in the air.  I touched my elbow to Mom’s side and she looked up.  
              He’s right where he needs to be, Mom.  

© Nancy Elliott Music and Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing 2017 ASCAP

                

Waiting On Sunset 

    West of a two lane just prior to and below the freeway entrance lay a run of old, concrete  acequias. They are dry on this section of land, now decades long fallow. Full of dirt and tumbleweeds, they are just beginning to crumble. The gate is missing from the north to south run; the gate at the elbow for the westerly leg is jammed shut by a couple of feet of dried mud and rocks left there by wind and monsoon rain. A mesquite of some good height has taken up residence in the canal about half way down the section. I am waiting for sunset here. 
    Semis whoosh by above me like a startled covey of quail, their noise fading quickly away as they fly to the west. I don’t wonder where they go, what they are hauling and why. Today, I don’t wonder where the cars are headed, or what the passengers inside are like. I am only waiting for sunset. 
    I love to walk and do so often, daily whenever possible. Taking a walk has been a habit of mine since childhood. To not go walking in the rain, snow or wind, or if the day was too hot never crossed my mine then. In my older years now. I tend to avoid a heavy of breeze, rain and freezing temperatures. But, there are those times when the bad old world needs to go away for a while and, regardless of wind or cold, I take a walk. Often, I find my self waiting for sunset. 
    The only trouble I have with taking a walk, is having to turn around and go back. Years have taught me that making a long circle is the best route to get home without having to retrace my path. Taking care to have the long side of the circle on my right or left, and with good timing, I can walk home waiting for sunset. 
    There is a refresh in the sunset. It is not a good habit to miss very many sunsets. A day is put to bed, tucked in behind the mountains, or trees or the sea with a poem, a lullaby, maybe a recitation of the happenings of note, or thankful whispers that nothing of note happened at all. When I go walking early, I am on the front porch, or at the window, waiting for sunset. 
    It is such a simple thing, a good habit to curate and be faithful to. When I have forgotten in the rush of the day, I am reminded of my earthly purpose while waiting for sunset. 
  

(C) 2022 Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing and Nancy Elliott Music ASCAP

Down A Country Road 

                                            
                                

    I couldn’t sleep last night. It was nearly morning before I finally drifted off. I had performed all the usual bedtime rituals and crawled under the covers with a good book and a cup of tea at about 8:15. Nodded off while reading then, after setting my book on the night table and turning off the light, was wide awake. 
    A drink of water, brew another cup of tea, read another chapter and I was getting sleepy again. That was when I heard the cow bawling. 
    Now, it bothers me, irritates really, when dogs bark relentlessly and for no reason and the owners don’ shush them. Noisy cows, however, tell a story. They have something worthwhile to say. This cow was upset and really bawling and it struck me like the cry of a child to a mother’ heart.  
    Although I no longer own cows, I am familiar after having spent a few years in their company. These days I walk my country neighborhood and I know who owns cows. I know the faces of the local, back acre livestock and they know me fairly well. And, I notice a new face in the crowd as well as missing faces. This particular cow was loud and close, so it might be a new animal for one of my neighbors.  
    Cows are timely, creatures of habit, expecting  their world and their humans to be timely as well. Most will return on their own from pasture to stand quietly and patiently in their own pen while staring a blazing hole through the gate or door from which their supper bearer appears.  Some begin announcing themselves upon arrival, just to give a heads up I suppose. Perhaps this cow’ human was late to evening chores. 
    As I listened to the persistent and frustrated complaining, I began to hear an edge of fear seeping in. When your child cries you know if it is hungry, tired, thirsty, angry or hurt. You have a parental knowing allowing you to pinpoint a problem right way and with great accuracy. With a cow, you can often guess correctly, but you are guessing purely out of familiarity of the habits of the species in general and of one animal in particular. This cow was very loud and demanding attention.  
    About a half dozen of those pretty Red Limousines live down the road a way. They always come to the fence for a “Howdy” and their babies come, too. Maybe one got out and wants back in. From that thought, my mind shifted into full “Mom” mode and I imagined one of the calves had sneaked out and Momma was calling to her baby to come back and right now! From that point, I feared the calf had slipped into the irrigation canal adjacent to the property and Momma was calling for help.  
   No, that place is too far for me to hear that cow. But, with the cold air, sound does carry.  
   Go to sleep Nancy, you are imagining things. I pulled up the covers, closed my eyes and immediately, Piggy came to mind. 

 

    It was 1985 and I was living in Grand Prairie, Texas, bartending at a Country and Western place called Sweetwater Saloon. I was also working at the barn where the local constabulary kept their horses. I would keep the horses legged up, groomed and ready for patrol, search or rescue. It was a nice enough place, butted against thousands of acres of loamy soil to ride. The adjacent ranch belonged to Pokey Roberts, most of which, if not all, is now under Joe Poole Recreation Area. The parcel leased by the horse patrol had a big turnout, two paddocks, a round pen and an old, drafty barn which mostly just provided protection from the sun.  
    About this time, my brother, a few years out of the Marine Corp and settled into the working class, became a bit bored and decided he wanted to get into the cattle business. He also decided that since I was going out to the barn twice a day anyway, it would be no problem for me to feed a few young cows while there. Hmmm, okay. Plans were made to go to the sale barn.  
    I came home with a new cotton braided headstall and matching reins, a colorful bareback pad and slip on style spurs. My brother came home with four bucket calves.  


    Now, raising bucket calves, or bottle calves if you will, is no easy task with a guaranteed outcome. Day old calves separated from momma do not have much of a chance no matter how you shake it. And, this project was started in the winter so, one is going out multiple times a day and night and in all weather. Sometimes, while I was bottle feeding these little guys very early or very late, my children were sleeping in the back of my compact station wagon with the heater running as sleeting rain blew side ways through the slats of the barn. More than one of those calves was warmed up in the back of that old beat up Corolla,  

    We had three survivors. And after we got them sold or in the freezer, we heard from the old timers we were experiencing real success in the bucket calf industry. My brother, so encouraged, set out to start another herd.  
    We didn’t name these calves, though the kids tried to. We called them by their ear tag numbers. Except this one cow my brother took to for some reason. He called her Piggy, and that was the end of the proper relationship with his intended dinner.

    With the extra attention, Piggy grew quickly, was friendly, playful and curious and she loved her people. The other calves were sold but Piggy stayed, becoming a mascot of sorts. She was pen or stall mate to the occasional sick or injured horse and one wild, crazy, grey roan stallion named Chief. He would hardly let anyone else in his stall except Piggy or me, and no one at all unless she was in there with him.  


    A year later my brother decided he was done with the cattle business and going to give Piggy to a 4-H or FFA kid by running an advertisement in the classifieds. He got an interested party right away and, instead of explaining the twists and turns of the country lanes to the pasture, he loaded Piggy in the horse trailer she originally arrived in and took her to his house. He had a few acres all, in lawn with Pecan trees for shade and situated near a pretty lake in a nice subdivision. Perfect for an over night stay for Piggy.  
     
    Next morning my phone rings very early. Because I had worked until two a.m. the night before I answered with a groggy, “Hello.” 


    “Nancy,” says my sister in law. “Piggy is gone. 

    “Oh, you met that 4-H kid really early! Good, I am glad she got a new home.” 
     
    “No. She is just gone. We got up this morning and she had walked the fence down. She’ gone. Piggy is missing!” 
    

     Now, mind you, Piggy had never been anywhere but the sale barn as a wobbly legged newborn, the pasture and barn where she lived for nearly two years, and then to my brother’ yard. “She probably just walked down to the lake,” I said. “Did you look there?” 
         
    “We looked, she isn’t there.” 

    “Well, it is a neighborhood of privacy fences. Unless someone found her and put her in their yard, she is wandering the neighborhood.” 

    “We need you to come help find her.” 

    “Okay. I will come over and we can go to the barn and get Chewy. Horseback, I will be able to see over the fences. If some one put her in their yard for safe keeping, we will find her without having to knock on every door and ask if they have seen our cow roaming around.” 


    The process of getting two small children out of bed, fed and dressed to go took a while and, I was sure that by the time I arrived, Piggy would be tucked safely back in the yard, having returned from her gallivant. But, my sister in law was wringing her hands when she met me at their gate and my brother was equally upset. 

    “Maybe you should not give her away,” I observed. 

    We loaded in the truck and headed to the leased pasture and barn. It was about a half mile drive out of the neighborhood to 14th street where we hung a left. 14th Street quickly becomes more of a two lane thoroughfare passing behind a shopping center on the right and running beside a good ole Texas bayou on the left. A mile or so down on the right is an expansive, very nice golf club and estates type subdivision. Past that and down the hill we took a right turn off 14th Street onto Fish Creek Road, a country lane, which runs parallel to I-20 for a mile or so. Fish Creek Road then makes a hard left, over I-20, via a narrow, country lane bridge, then another hard left onto a tree lined, one lane road doubling back, this time, within spitting distance of I-20. We were a half mile or less from the right turn which would take me to my horse when we spied Piggy tied to a tree. 

    “Holy shit!” My brother slammed on the brakes, nearly throwing me into the dashboard.  

    “Well, I’ll be damned,” I said while pulling my self back up in the seat. Then I started laughing. That kind of knee slapping laugh where you snort and suck wind. “She nearly made it,” I said, wiping tears and trying to catch my breath. “A homing cow is worth something, you know. “ 

     He glared at me, not amused. “We nearly lost her.” 

    “No, you did not. You never lost her. She only went home when you were not looking.” 

 

    The lady who captured Piggy demanded a reward.  

     My brother said, “Kiss my ass.” He's friendly like that.  

    He was going to load Piggy in the trailer and take her back to his house but I said, “Turn her loose and let her finish her journey. You go on ahead and I will follow her on foot. Then we will take her back.” 

    The young person who came to see Piggy later that morning was smitten by her sweet face and demeanor. Love at first sight. I warned this youngster to be sure to build a real good fence.  

 

    The unknown cow was still calling plaintively when I returned from my musings. I put on sweats and sneakers, grabbed a flashlight and climbed into the car to go see what I could find. My horse, Mr. Pepper, is gone three years now, so I would not have the advantage of his Thoroughbred height to see over fences.


    I did not find the cow. She must have been deep in the neighborhood, in a back lot where my flashlight would not penetrate. Those pretty red cows were all tucked in their pens, no strays having fallen into the canal.  
    I went home and as I climbed out of the car and walked back to the porch, that cow gave one last bellow and quit. Just like that.  
    I smiled. It had been a pleasant drive down an old country road. 

 

Nancy Elliott @ Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing  2021

Image of my children at the barn taken by me on a Kodak Instamatic circa 1985