Monday, February 23, 2009

Just A Cowboy Steven Bland

In August of 2005, I sat in a hospital room where my husband Bear was gravely sick. A lot of you knew this but some of you did not. He had open heart surgery at 47 years old because his heart was infected from a tooth extraction. We were told at the time that it would be a miracle if he survived. After many agonizing months, we recieved our miracle. At the time, a name kept coming up inconversation with fellow horse people. Tootie Bland.

It would seem that she and her husband Steven did not recieve the same miracle and Steven passed away. My heart ached for her as it does still today and they were in my thoughts a lot. I didn't know them at the time, only heard her name cross the lips of so many people. Their situation mirrored ours in a lot of ways. Horse people, heart surgery, the men were the same age, and two women who loved their husbands dearly cherished every moment that we had with them.

There is a certain amount of guilt that comes with being a survivor when others were not as fortunate and I really felt compelled to reach out to this stranger but hesitated because my husband survived and hers did not. I could feel her pain although I had never met her because in that dark place between life and death, pain is too unbearable not to share.

Recently, I sent her an email because I couldn't get her out of my mind. I saw her name again in conjunction with an event called The Road To The Horse that was being planned for the middle of March. It wasn't so much the dates or even the event that caught my attention but rather the location. Franklin Tennessee.

The location in which the event was being held is actually minutes from the small cabin where I love to go to write. Marvin and Maryella's cabin. So as I said I finally reached out to Tootie in an email and she called me a week or so ago. We chatted for quite some time and shared our stories and the similarities in our lives and she couldn't have been nicer. Hearing her talk about Steven and their lives promted me to write a small tribute to their love for each other. She told me that he used to say that he was "Just A Cowboy". Her love for him tells me that he was so much more than that.

Steven will be inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame next month and she has asked to use the tribute aspart of the celebration of his life and accomplishments. I am both honored and humbled by this. I dearly wish their ending would have been a happier one because she deserves many happy endings.

We have spoken a few times since via email and Bear and I will be with her at The Road To The Horse next month and give her the biggest hug ever! Her strength in the face of adversity deserves a place in the Hall of Fame aside her husbands name. Tootie, our love and respect to you and the memory of your Steven.

By Tena Bastian

A man is judged by who he is
Not what he has done or where he has been
Not silver buckles, titles or trophies
But by those who love him and call him their friend.

A cowboy is judged by his character
By his ability to make a good decision
Not the height of his horse or the size of his spurs
That is not what makes him an American Tradition.

He said, “I’m just a cowboy”
Nothing more and nothing less
A man of his word who’s love and compassion
Measured his success.

Just A Cowboy lived his life
With love in his heart and a comforting smile
His accomplishments were many
He had grace and dignity and style.

Just A Cowboy loved a woman
With a heart so pure, she made him whole
She was the love of his life, his kindred spirit
One life, one love, one soul.

They rode the plains of Texas northwest of Abilene
Their mornings spent tending cattle and checking the fields of hay
A sky of blue and pastures green
Just A Cowboy led the way.

The road to the horse is a quiet one
With steady hands and a compassionate heart
Where a horse is never broken
But rather given a solid start.

They knew it wouldn’t be easy
Because nothing worth having ever was
But they believed in the strength of each other
In their faith, their abilities and their love.

They took the road less traveled
But they set their minds and stayed their course
El Camino Del Cabbalas
Welcome to The Road To The Horse.

He said “I’m just a cowboy”
And he lived his life with no regret
For the things they had accomplished
And the ones she ain’t done yet.

He will always be here in spirit
To comfort you, to catch you when you fall
To love you unconditionally
Because he is “Just A Cowboy” after all.

For Tootie with love