The Lessons We Learn


It was 10:00p.m. when I got home. I felt like a freight train had run over me. I was barely able to walk to the refrigerator to grab a cold beer. Every part of my 115 pounds of bone and flesh was hurting. My body seemed to scream out in pain at just the thought of getting back on a bull. I knew I had to, but it wasn’t going to be tonight. I knew I had to ride again, for the pride or just to prove to my grandfather that I was no candyass.


All I wanted right then was some painkillers, so I drank a few beers and slowly crawled into my bed. I sat there for a few minutes reflecting on my first 8 seconds. For a girl and my first ride, I did pretty damn good. That leg would take months to heal fully. I could only wonder how it happened, until John finished the video. Boy, I couldn’t wait to see it. I drifted worriedly off to sleep.


The next morning I awoke unable to move without causing unbearable pain. I cried most of the way to Gene’s clinic. He was a good friend, the best vet I knew. He would help with some pain management. I opened the office door. With cane in hand, I hobbled into the office. Gene was normally in the back, but that day he was right there at the front desk. He looked up from behind his granma glasses and said with a stern voice, “ I told you so.”


All I could mutter out was, “ I know. Just shut-up and help me.” After his unusually short lecture, Gene handed me a handful of Bute. Bute is a large animal muscle relaxer. It would surely help. With pain pills in hand, a thanks and a goodbye, I was out the door.


By the time I made it to my grandfather’s house, he had already called up all the old cowboys in town. “Ol’, Melody went to a rodeo last night,” he’d say. “She is just lucky all my old bull ridin’ equipment fit her.” I guess that was his way of saying he was proud. When I got inside the house and settled in a good chair, I gave him my torn up pants.


“T.J., do ya think you can find a way to fix these for me?” I asked.


In a proud voice, he said, “ I’ll take care of ‘em.” He held them up to see the damage, and it seemed to trigger some old memories lost somewhere in the back of his head for many years. He sat in his recliner and began telling me about his rodeo years.


I rode twice a week for the next eight months chasing his dreams. What a price to pay for someone else’s pride. It was a lesson I will only have to learn once.