Cowboys and Injections

Think back, and I mean way back. What are the constants in your life? Your grandparents? The childhood friend since kindergarten? Your love of music? Things that entered your life so young, the norm makes you forget their importance.

Childhood began in the Sandhills, population density so low only North Dakota and Alaska beat the barrenness. I squeezed in next to my brother in the single cab of the work pickup, bouncing over gravel roads, to the one-room school, where my only schoolmate rode next to me. Hot water was nonexistent and during the cold snaps of winter, at times, the sewer would freeze. As the sharp knife of cold air closed my windpipe, I struggled to open the door of the outhouse while inhaling a deep breath to last the visit. Norm? Not for most.

It was January of 1984, I was 5 years old. I only remember this date because my grandmother gave me a small music box in the hospital. She always dates and writes a warming note. That note is still tucked in the lid of the box. A warm note reminding me of an unhappy time. My body’s own immune system had attacked my islet cells. My insulin producing days were over. Technically, I was a juvenile diabetic.

When I grew up I wanted to be my dad or granddad. I was surrounded by tough men who braved the weather, elements, and poor cattle markets. Of course you wore a cowboy hat! Do you want your ears to sunburn or the back of your neck to get wet during a rain? Tough men who could handle horses and wrangle cows. My favorite shirt was just like my dad’s- Lee’s baby blue western cut, two pockets, with pearl snaps. I still love pearls. But my shirt was pink and I wore it every day. To the dismay of my mother, who preferred the occasional laundry over my fashion statement.

Life moves on. After six years in the second biggest city of the state, I came full circle. I work again in the Sandhills and married a cowboy. Consistent. Normal. I will always have them. Cowboys and Injections.

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