Gail Oakes commented to a Facebook friend: “I didn’t know there really was a Pagosa Springs. I just remember C.W. McCall singing about the Peterbuilt careening down Wolf Creek Pass, way up on the Great Divide, truckin’ on down the other side (put his foot on the brake and it felt just like a plum) and slamming into the side of the feed store in downtown Pagosa Springs. They don’t write songs like that any more!”
Yes, Gail Oakes, there is a Pagosa Springs and there used to be a feed store in downtown Pagosa. I was here to see it. They don’t write songs like that any more and times have changed since then. The Pagosa Feed Store is gone but there are still some real men in Pagosa Springs.
I went to an art function. A lady said to me, “I read your articles and I love to read about Sweet Al.”
My immediate reaction was, “My biggest fear is I might make Al look bad or make it sound like I am belittling him.”
Her response was, “Al is a real man. You are a real woman looking at a real man.”
I said, “Do you mind if I quote you? I love it. We are just who we are. I don’t apologize for who we are anymore.”
Being real is not about having a lot of money or not having money but becoming the person we are suppose to be. I believe it is something we all strive for.
Our friend, Pat the cowboy, is the real deal. When I see Pat, I tell him, “You’re the authentic thing. I’ve got to write about you some day and I’ve got to paint you in that old jeep.”
Pat the cowboy rides his horse every day, wears a dirty old hat, red handkerchief around his neck and scuffed up boots. He gives free riding lessons to all the kids in Aspen Springs who can’t afford to pay him.
Can he afford to give free lessons? No, but his worth is more than money. He is a man of his word. If he owes you, he pays you even if it leaves him a little short. He is learning to live life in a real way.
On Sunday, he slicks back his hair under a brown felt cowboy hat, ties a clean red bandana around his neck, his boots shined and he wears the best clean shirt he owns. He shows up in his old beat up rusty jeep.
He has seen it all. He owned a big ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., owned jumping horses; he even wrote a few westerns for Hollywood, owned a limousine with a driver, rubbed shoulders with big money and big names. But life got out of hand for this old cowboy, and one day he turned back to his roots and got real.
This week in church, he told how he had everything the world could give to him and then he hit bottom. He cried because he was so thankful for how blessed he is now. He didn’t have much, but appreciated life. I saw a real man cry. It touched my heart so deeply. He apologized for his tears and I thought, you’ve never been more handsome.
Another example of a real man is Lee Petty. Recently at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, they honored Lee Petty, the father of the Petty Racing Team. He said, they were so broke, he drove for groceries. His wife packed a lunch for him and he ate it while he was racing. Today they drive for millions of dollars. Back then, $150 was big.
His sons said he was tough and a hard man and they didn’t really get to know their father, he was too busy driving. His grandsons said they were scared of him until he invited them to lunch. Every day, he sat down with them and taught them about winning and told the stories of his days behind the wheel.
The grandsons said it was so special getting to know their grandfather. Their grandfather became real to them. His own sons missed him in all the fanfare and even said, “We didn’t know him like that, we wished we had of.”
The price of a real man! Who can count his worth? There is something authentic, handsome and even right down sexy about a man who looks a little worn and has worked hard for his family.
Sometimes, it takes a lot of living and a lot of working to finally come to terms with one’s self. That’s when others might see him cry, see him shed a tear or two. That is when he becomes a real man and never looked more handsome.
Final brushstroke: When you don’t have to prove yourself, to yourself or the world, then you become real.
”We have a choice every day — to act on yesterday’s good intentions or get an early start on tomorrow’s regret.” — Robert Brault, writer.
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