Once in a while someone comes along that makes a mighty impression on you. For me it was Merl, my cowboy's cowboy friend. Merl was around 45, we were in our early thirties. I wear batwing chaps because that's what he wore. I wish I was more like him.
Merl's son had a nice collie dog that wandered off ocasionaly and ended up at our place. Once, when we took him back, we were standing near the fence talking to Merl and his son and his son's wife and her dad.
His son also had sheep. Merl said he didn't like sheep, because sheep were born to die: couldn't run, couldn't fight, and couldn't figure. Anyway, these sheep saw Merle and came up to the fence too.
We were all standing there: the sheep, my cowboy and I, the dog, Merl, his son, son's wife and her dad. I looked around and got the distinct impression that everyone there knew Merl loved them (even those helpless sheep, in spite of what he said bout them ). That's the way Merl was. He cared. He reminded me a lot of Someone else who made/makes us feel loved, Someone who cares about us.
Merl had a heart attack around every 5 years from the time he was 25, 5 in all. I often wondered if, in those experiences somehow, he had seen that Someone.
One night during calving season I heard my cowboy come in about 10:00 PM but he didn't come up to bed. He left again and didn't come home till the wee hours of the morning. He told me about it all later.
He said he had a really strong feeling that he needed to go over to Merl's dad's place. He didn't know why exactly but when he got there Merl's dad come to the door and asked, "How did you get here so fast?"
Merle had his last heart attack and died out in the corral while his dad was in the house calling the vet. His folks were waiting for the ambulance to come. My cowboy had beat it there.
He was there to help Merl's folks that night when they really needed help. I realized that their tie of friendship must have been an awfully strong thread.
The next day, I was in town, and got talking to this lady from our community. I told her Merle had passed and she just stood there on the street by the bank and cried. It surprised me. I didn't even think she knew him that well but obviously she felt the same way I did that day we took the dog back.
That's the way Merl was. Because of him I think I know what being around that Someone would have been like; how those who walked with Him felt loved like that.
If you go to the small country graveyard where Merl is buried and you find his headstone it reads; "Riding Home."