With Father’s Day coming up, I can’t help but think of special memories I shares with with dad. Last night I took a nostalgic trip back into the days of my youth where one memory stood out above all the others. My heart tugged with fondness as I thought about dear Dad. He loved the rodeo and he took us to the fair any time he could. Our family was simple country folks. Dad was more western than most, though he never traveled further than Ohio in those early years. The rodeo was born into my daddy’s blood and I learned to love the show as much as him.
I remember listening to his stories about riding horses how he fantasized about being a rodeo rider. He shared how he loved watching them, holding his breath that they would stay on for those eight seconds. With famous actors like Clint Eastwood or John Wayne, it was easy to watch all these great classic movies. So many of the classic cowboy costumes I see remind me of those gun slinging, rough-riding characters.
I secretly wished that I had lived in those days so I fantasized about the lifestyle on the road riding horseback across the wild lands to explore an unsettled country, just like my dad. I traveled most of my adult life trying to satiate that desire to experience something close to the adventure of those early pioneer explorers. The closest thing to that peak excitement I found at the rodeo.
If truth be told, Dad was a great rider in his days on the farm growing up, but he never made it to the rodeo ring like he dreamed. As I grew older, I savored those trips to the fair in hopes that I would see some great horse riding or that I would get to watch those cowboys master one of the wild bulls. It was so exciting to even think about. I remember telling myself that riding bulls was a dangerous and somewhat crazy stunt, yet I longed to watch just the same.
There is just something about human nature that brings us to witness danger or catastrophe while standing on the very edge of safety. Rodeos are filled with that same sense of wild and dangerous excitement. Fans can watch from the safety of the bleachers or stand outside the corral while cowboys and cowgirls mount wild untamed animals for a contest of wills. In those critical few seconds in time, it is a clash between human and beast as one tries to conquer the others will. Fascinating sport! And it’s a battle of wills between human and beast that dates back to our primal beginnings.
Even though dad is no longer here, the rodeo will always remind me of him. To all of you that still have your days, I hope he is the top cowboy in your life on Father’s Day.