A few years ago, the day before my birthday, I had taken the big geldings over to the farrier. I begged my cowboy to come with me because I was worried; I knew he was tired. We were working on the ranch and there were so many yearlings to treat for foot rot an pink eye (at least 6 or 7 a day running in about 17 square miles of pasture) that he refused to come and took out a little grey horse we call Trouper (actually I call him Grumpy now) to do the work by himself.
While I was getting the horse's feet done the lady there came out with the phone in her hand and asked me: "Has the hospital got hold of you?" My heart sank. I told her no. She said: "This is your boss on the phone." I was trembling when I took the receiver from her, prepared for the worst.
On the other end he said: "He's been hurt but it's all fixable (Sigh of relief) but you might want to go to the hospital, the Stars Air Ambulance has flown him there." (I knew that meant it was bad).
I got to the hospital and the hospital's social worker met me at the door. It was her job to help the family of those who were flown into this big city hospital. "He looks bad," she tried to warn me. I told her: "He's a cowboy, I've seen him busted up before. He's on his third nose" (a lame attempt at humor). She never even smiled.
When I saw him I was glad she had said something because his chin was all but kicked off (hanging off to the left side of his face) his bottom dentures were gone (later we found a piece of them in his pocket, go figure) and I could see his tongue waggling around in his mouth when he tried to talk.
While I watched they tried taking his top dentures out and his face moved like I never thought possible.
One of the nurses asked him if he was allergic to any thing. He only said one word, "Sheep." I smiled but she said "Excuse me?" oblivious to the joke he was trying to make.
I stayed in the hotel in the city that night and the next day, my birthday, sitting by his hospital bed as he slept. And the next 4 months I tried to take care of him while he recuperated. A lot of that involved him sleeping.
The ranch boss kept him on even though he wasn't working, though Worker's Compensation paid a portion of his wages to us and the bosses didn't have to. Still we were living in the house by the creek that was supplied for the hired man which meant they couldn't hire anyone else really.
Two weeks after the accident he said his arm hurt and we found out it had been broken but they hadn't discovered it. I guess the morphine had mostly covered up the pain.
He couldn't remember exactly what happened. He'd roped a yearling, it charged his horse, the horse started bucking and the next he remembered he was standing on the ground with his rope coiled in his hand, the horse beside him, my dog Blue was looking up at him. He'd walked half a mile to the trailer loaded the horse and the dog and drove to the hi-way, pretty sure he had been in a wreck.
He knew I'd be mad if he didn't go to the doctor so he turned and headed north towards the closest town. Gradually he became a little more aware and noticed blood on his gloves and then looking down noticed a river of blood running down the front of his shirt. At a hundred K (60 miles per hour) he turned the rear view mirror to look at his face. You can imagine his horror when he saw it.
And I'm pretty sure my cowboy has a tired guardian angel, besides me, that is.