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27 September, 2010 / theexpositor

“Make em a good hand boy…”

One of the greatest men I have ever knew, did not possess a grand formal education, nor was he rich materially or well traveled. He was in fact a simple man who farmed the land and who passed on to me a love for livestock and cowboying. He was an amazing man and I marveled at what he could do, with a crop in the ground or a cow in a field.

I don’t recall seeing him wear a cowboy hat very often. It was usually a cap of sorts, jeans, boots and a button up shirt. Maybe an occasional pair of khakis and always cleaned and properly prepared for church.

There is much that I remember of him and recently someone asked me to describe my childhood days. Although there was much in my youthful years that were troubling, the ones that I either can, or choose to recall, more times than not, included this great man.

He made an impression on me so strong, that to this day, I stop what I am doing, and jot down a few thoughts about what he meant to me. There is not a day that goes by that something he said to me or showed me, doesn’t play into my day-day life.

It isn’t only the advice or instruction he passed to me, but probably more so, the things I saw and watched of him, when he didn’t even know I was looking. The way he trimmed his fingernails with his pocket knife; how he rested his arms on the kitchen table while he chewed his food;  the loud yawn he made every night around 9:30 when it was time for him to go to bed; the way he laid his boots out at night; how he would cut his hand and not even realize it.

It’s cliché to some, but to me it’s the rock solid truth, when God created this man he broke the mold. Surely there are many others who live and have lived as he did, but not another him.

So when I go to work every day, still rising before sun up and getting to my job hours before others do, its because of him and all the days we sat at his kitchen table, drinkin coffee and discussing the day. When I look at a field, especially one with long, long rows, I think of him and all the times I could see him standing up straight at the wheel of a tractor plowing or runnin ditches. When I see a horse gettin broncy in a pasture kickin and buckin all the way, I can still him tellin me, “Ride em boy!”, and gettin throwed off that pony, him bending over me asking me, “Well…what are you gonna do now?” I would reply, “Get back on I reckon.”, and he would say, “well, let’s see it then”.

Oh, I miss him so.

I always made it a point to tell him I loved him and made sure I touched him physically, whether be a handshake, or a hug or simply brushing my hand across his crew cut hair.

Life has been very hard for me at times, especially in the last couple of years, and so many times I wish I had him to go to and sit and talk about it all. Yet how thankful I am for the memories and lessons he left me.

He was my hero, an inspiration, a friend and the greatest cowboy I ever knew. He was Francis Corley, my pa-paw.

“Make em a good hand boy, make em a good hand”.


One Comment

  1. Jen / Sep 28 2010 11 18

    What a lovely tribute…

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