Weekly Posting of the Conservative Cow Doctor


The Long Walk Home

Monday was hard; after 28 years, Lloyd and I went for a walk. Lloyd joined my cowboy-polo string around age six, and over the next two decades, he did everything from chasing polo balls to packing guests to dragging calves. His was the life of a ranch horse on a cattle drive operation. After assigning guests their horses, if Lloyd was still in the corral, he became the favorite pony of my middle daughter, Chelsie. They were close friends and during the tedious hours trailing a string of cows and calves down a county road, Lloyd learned Chelsie’s brown paper lunch sack held goodies just as fitting for horses as for cowboys. The instant he heard the crinkle of paper as Chelsie pulled her lunch from her saddle bag, his ears would shoot up while his nose explored the treasures in Chelsie’s hand. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, granola bars, cheese sticks, corn chips and apples were all fair game. Lloyd loved lunch.

Late in his teen years, Lloyd suffered a life altering injury. It was early June and my nephew, Brendon, and Lloyd were chasing yearlings in the rugged, Red Butte pasture. At an all-out run, Lloyd stepped in a hole or slipped in the mud, sending them both cartwheeling down the steep hillside. Miraculously, Brendon emerged with no evidence of the tumbling which wouldn’t wash off in the shower. Lloyd was not so lucky; he struggled to his feet and was instantly packing his right hind leg. Worse than just being afoot, Brendon now had a three-legged horse to coax off the butte to the horse trailer, several miles away. It was a long trip.

We suspected Lloyd had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), rendering him forever stifled, so he spent the summer on pain killers and green pasture. Once the pain subsided, allowing me to fully manipulate his leg, I discovered his ACL was intact, but instead, he had torn his hamstring—an equally devastating injury. While healing, Lloyd’s body replaced the exploded hamstring muscle with scar tissue, forming a restrictive band with the elasticity of a log chain. Completely pain free, he would step forward until the band hit its limit, thereby causing his foot to slam to the ground. It is called the “goose-step” and it is the characteristic gait of fibrotic myopathy. I resected the band, yielding a completely normal gait the day after surgery. Within a year, the scar tissue returned, and he was goose-stepping again, so we went back to surgery. There are lots of tricks to keep the muscle from re-scarring, none of which work, so this cycle became our new normal.

Monday was the day this chapter of my life came to a close. It was a beautiful, deathly calm, October afternoon, as Lloyd and I climbed the half-mile over the hill behind the barn. Lloyd was arthritic and thin and regardless my efforts, winter’s bite would keep him from seeing another Wyoming spring. At my doings, he lay down in a chokecherry patch to never rise again. I walked back to the barn alone, carrying only his halter and the warm memories of a dark brown horse nosing Chelsie’s paper lunch sack for goodies.

I told you this story because God has given me a great life and I know everything before me, the easy days and the hard days, are placed there at His wishes. At this writing, I do not know the outcome of the most pivotal election in America’s history, yet it matters not. Whether I am on the inside or outside of the political arena, and regardless which candidates assume power, I will still crawl out of bed every morning at four o’clock and attack the task God has set before me. Faith, family and freedom drive me today, just as they did in days past. They should you too.

Home     |     Products     | Copyright (c) 2009 Krayton Kerns  All rights reserved.