Friday, April 22, 2005

Amos and Riding Horses

Reading Andre's post about breaking up with Coffee Shop Girl got me thinking about a time when I went through a tough break up and how wise the smallest bit of words can be. To understand this, I've got to give you a bit of background on my family. When I got old enough to see how terrible the world could be, I began to realize that I have one damn good family. Not the Walton's or Huxtables. No, my family wasn't that eloquent or that lovey dovey. But what they might lack in outward manifestations, they make up for with heart. Amos was an example of what my family is about.

Amos was an old man back in my hometown in Texas. Most of my mother's side lives in that weatherbeaten cowtown. As progress marched, modern ranching pretty much eliminated the need for the cowboy. Amos was one of those unfortunate souls. He had grown up in that town and got old there as well. He was at the point of just living his days out in a wheelchair; no family around; pretty much confined to his small house. My Uncle H worked for a glass company that did some work there at Amos' house. My Uncle H took it upon himself to keep checking in and eventually, Amos became a regular feature at my Aunt A's Mexican restaurant. My Aunt A's place was considered the family restaurant. On many an occassion, someone down on their luck or some illegal aliens might knock at the back door; looking for a meal when they had no money or looking for a few hours work to get a little further down the road. My family always did what they could to help out with a little money, some food, or some warm clothes.

At the restaurant, Amos would sit in the kitchen with my aunts and my grandmother drinking coffee and just listening to everyone talk. He'd throw in a bit here and there to keep conversations going. He'd regale us kids with stories about how the building used to be an old bar; how he'd washed dishes there as a kid; how sometimes cowboys would get drunk and shoot the place up (he showed us the bullet holes); and how he watched a man die one night in that place after he was shot. All of my younger cousins became attached to Amos and his face always lit up upon seeing the newest members of the family. He always wore his cowboy hat outside, but took it off as soon as he got through the back door of the restaurant. At Christmas, my family would have a dinner at the restaurant, exchange gifts, and Santa Claus (my Uncle G) would make an appearance for the kids. Amos was always there and the gifts everyone gave nearly made him cry. When he passed away, my family was there because they had truly lost a family member.

My ex fiance and I broke up twice (we got back together and I went to Korea when we broke up for good). The first breakup was during a temporary duty to Washington D.C.. I finished up 3 months in D.C. and immediately took leave back to my hometown. My time was spent with family just relaxing. I'd go down to the restaurant and my Aunts would spoil me rotten. I'd lend a hand doing whatever needed to be done to "work for my supper". My mother would always reintroduce me to Amos everytime. He'd just lean back in his wheelchair and tell my mother with a big ole grin, "I remember him. He's the boy in the service." Amos noticed that I wasn't my usual self and I explained to him what happened. He sat there a moment and finally said another one of those things that you don't forget in your life. It was a simple enough thing to say and it would later make sense in the larger context: "Son, some horses you just gotta let ride."

At the time, I didn't understand. After all, aren't you supposed to keep fighting for those you love? Isn't that the romantic notion? Why would you ever just "let a horse ride" and not try to keep it for yourself? Wasn't I different than those who had loved before and didn't I know what true love was? Experience is a bitch of a teacher. Eventually you learn that just because you fall in love with someone doesn't mean that you'll be together forerver. You learn that some things are worth fighting for, but sometimes you just gotta walk away and let things be. That's not to say that there are some people who aren't worth fighting for. Quite the opposite, everyone has inherent vaule and is worth fighting for. The only question is whether that person is whom you should be fighting for.

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