"I want to be know as one of the Cowboys, not just another Cowboy's wife"

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Papa Doug

Doug and Roany, Claremore WRCA Ranch Rodeo
As I open up my blog to take care of some unfinished business.... the Heritage Post is staring at me... waiting for me to finish what my heart was once and is still is loving about the Cowboy Culture ... and that's its Heritage........
Well... I have the music playing on my computer, the 11 songs we played.... the pictures that had been taken.... and his boots setting right in plain sight in the living room..................... So I start in on the hardest blog post I will have to write this far..... As I'm talking to Chris, explaining what I'm writing on this one and what all I'm going to put ....I can't help but notice that the living room clears out fast.... Next thing I hear is my little cowboy crying in his room and the shower starting in the back bath room.... This tells me that I need to close the Blog for today and wait until hearts heal just alittle.......

And come to think about it.... that's not a bad idea.... I am already feeling those warm salty tears run down my checks.....

So....................... a few hours later and my house is empty.... I just can't get this off my brain.... I laid awake in bed last night trying to decided what pictures and stories to put and which ones not to put.... How could I ever decided, each and everyone is special in their own way.... whether it was a good and happy memory or a sad and learning memory....... Well here is what my heart can handle at this point... I'm sure there will be many more Papa Doug stories and post in days to come......

One of my first stories that comes to mind and puts a big smile on my face was the first time I met Doug.... Chris' Aunt Debbie, whom my parents were family friends with wanted to introduce me to her nice shy nephew.... After a fast hello from the Cowboy who never even looked up from the ground long enough for me to really get a look at him, I introduced myself to the older not so shy version of the Cowboy who I had just tried to make eye contact with..... Like I said... Not so shy... so the questions came flowing out.... You like to ride? You rodeo? What do you Do? And after a simple yes, no, yes, no and goat tie answers he was hooked.... He asked me 569 questions on how to tie a goat, about the string I used, the horse I rode.... and anything else he could pull out from that old cowboy hat he was wearing..... By the time I was done answering the interview he had me so unsure, self conscious, and nervous about my self....

For those of you that know Doug, he has a way of doing this to people.....Well, after years and years of learning and loving the older version of the Cowboy, I have learned that all those questions he asked were his way of showing he liked me... and he was asking all the things he really and truly wished his shy younger version would have had the courage to ask.... His intention was never to put the pressure on me.... but instead it was him trying to get to know me...............

So that was the first time I met him..... and so for the next 3 weeks the Shy Cowboy and I were side by side in everything we did..... learning about each others lives....  and making new memories.... One afternoon we stopped by the Shy Cowboy's house to visit his folks and there was the not so shy Older Cowboy... sitting at the kitchen table..... With out any Hello, Hi, How are you all today..... He just went straight for the punch..... "So you all going to get married?".................. after a few seconds of being stunned and not knowing what to say........... we both just laughed....... and he didn't think it was as funny as we did.... "Well, you both like each other, like the same things, I mean it would be silly not to"............................... Same could say you get wiser with age, and man he was so right.... we loved each other, loved the same things, and he was right.................... The Shy Cowboy and I fell in Love and got married!!!!

But before the marriage, and only 6 months into the life of being Shy Cowboy's girlfriend we found out we were going to be parents.............. Scared to death to tell either sets of parents I figured I would tell his first............. My Cowboy had already packed up and headed south to work for a ranch and the plan was for me to move down as soon as high school was out, enjoy the summer together before leaving for college.... hahaha..... funny how plans don't work out sometimes.... Anyways, One evening I stopped by the Older Cowboy and his wonderful wife Roxanne's house, which is Shy Cowboy's Momma..... I didn't even have to say a word, they must have read my scared eyes.... Sitting in his chair, Older Cowboy looks up at me and asked "Are we going to have a Grand baby?"........... My heart skipped a beat and I could no longer breath..... How in the world does Old Cowboy know all of this..... First the marriage thing and now the baby........... After a smile on my face and a head shake yes he reached out and grabbed my hand.......... "Good, I'm Glad........... But what's your plan?"  In a calm and simple voice a I responded "I will come up with a plan as soon as I tell my parents, until then there is no plan".................. With a big smile on his face and a serious look in his eye and told me no matter what happens in life you always have to have a plan. That is something I will hold dear to my heart forever and ever..............

Holding the herd on the Whitmire Ranch with good friend Dwight Bilyk

So life went on, it didn't go as planned when I broke the news to my parents.... so I moved in with the Older Cowboy and Roxanne.... They took me in as their own. I stayed 4 days a week there... because the other 3 days I couldn't stand not being with my Shy Cowboy.

Shy Cowboy, Small Cowboy, and Older Cowboy.... Heritage!!!
Life for the next 12 years were crazy, fast, fun, and learning.................. The Shy Cowboy and I went through alot together.... 2 babies, several nieces and 1 nephew, weddings and funerals, smiles and tears..... lots of moves, lots of horses, lots of boxes... oh sorry I already listed moves... haha....Most of our fun was spent together but there are so many memories with the Older Cowboy as well....  he soon went from Older Cowboy to Papa..... My kids loved him, loved everything about him..... everything from staying the night and eating cold hot dogs wrapped up in a slice of white bread, to the good horses he always had to ride.... and everything in between.
Horse string at SMS, Swenson Ranch, Texas

I can't bore you all with all the stories we shared over the years, but I must make note that I'm the women, mother, wife, and cowgirl because of the man I once called Old Cowboy and now call Dad!! One of our many travels during the years we found our selves making home at the feed lot in Freedom Oklahoma. The Old and Shy Cowboy rode pens in the feedlot in the morning and rode the ranches colts in the afternoon.... which meant there was no time for them to doctor the sick cattle they had pulled...... So they signed me up to run the vet shack and do the doctoring. I knew little about cattle medicines, let alone how to know what give them.... This far my doctoring skills where limited to running a shot in the processing crew or giving a yearling what ever Shy Cowboy told me to get out of his saddle bags.............. Well like most people would, I refused to do a job I know nothing about...... but after a family fight and lots of tears later, Dad told me that sometimes in Life you have to do things you are scared of, not sure of, and or refuse to do. So the next morning, off to the vet shack I went.... Yes he won the battle.... Shy and Old Cowboy gave me a fast run through of what and what not to do and they were off to pull sick cattle............ Well to make short of this story.... I cleaned up the vet shack, babied those sick little cattle, learned all about meds, and enjoyed everyday of it.............. He taught me a lesson in life that I will ever be thankful for, But I never did tell him he was right..... haha
The Older Cowboy was a dieing breed... one of a kind.... old fashioned....true grit kind of Cowboy.... Him and Gus from Lonesome Dove could have been partners.... He loved good horses, pretty girls, grand babies, and the wide open spaces. He traveled light and was always telling us "Don't get use to something you cant have forever"............. Material things were not important... just an ole truck, ugly horse, bedroll and a tee pee was all that this Cowboy would need.... He stopped by the house a month ago to drop off some of his tack and extra gear before heading out west to start some horses for the Broken O's Ranch..... He looked at Shy Cowboy and said "If I cant train them with this saddle and these 2 bridles, then they aren't worth riding"........... and that right there sums up the Older Cowboy!!

I  have only began to tell you what he meant to me..... but there is no way I could ever get this white screen, these small black letters, and these pictures to ever explain what the Older Cowboy meant to the Shy Cowboy.... or what  Papa meant to the Small Cowboys.....

Older Cowboy and his team, Whitmire Ranch

Most men are close to their Dads..... But what the Older Cowboy and the Shy Cowboy had was something  you don't see every day....

Shy Cowboy and Older Cowboy at our wedding

They worked together on several ranches across the country, flanked calves, branded yearlings, and rode more horses then most people see in 100 years......

They had a bond, its hard to explain but for those of you that have seen the pair work together you know what I'm trying to say.....

The word hero is fitting, the word respect is fitting, and the word Cowboy is fitting....

It was a pleasure to set back and watch them start a colt... the Older Cowboy would be on a broke horse and the Shy Cowboy would climb in the saddle on the colt knowing that his father would take care of him.... They could reach the soul of a young horse better then I have ever seen.... the Older Cowboy had a way with horses, the way he looked deep into their eyes.... so deep that he could read what every heart beat was wanting to say... whether it was I'm scared, I want to be your friend, or I want to kick your head off...... No matter the differences in horses, no matter the breeding,.... the Older Cowboy had a way, a feel, and passion for the Horses.....

Showing Horses together, Pryor Oklahoma
2 weeks ago the Older Cowboy passed away and is now in Heaven...............  This was the hardest thing I have ever been through.... The heart break of Shy Cowboy was so sad, maybe I shouldn't call it heart break.  It was as if half of his heart, soul, and passion was taken in a blink of an eye. I stood strong, thinking about the time in the feedlot when the Older Cowboy told me.... "sometimes in Life you have to do things you are scared of, not sure of, and or refuse to do".......... so with that in my heart I held the hand of a broken Cowboy.... a sad Cowboy..... and a Shy Cowboy that wished he could have a few more minutes to tell the Older Cowboy how he loved him, respected him, cherished him, and will forever remember the good times, wild broncs, and the special moments they shared with each other. If the Shy Cowboy could have said what his heart was wanting to.... he would have thanked him for the lessons he has not only thought him, but what he has taught the Small Cowboys.

The day of the service, Shy Cowboy was saddleing Older Cowboy's horse so that our Small Cowboy could lead him to the service.... This would be for Papa's last ride.... As I rounded the barn door I see a tall but broken down Cowboy.... My Shy Cowboy was shaking and crying so hard that he couldnt get his hands to run the latigo through the cinches.... as I step closer to help.... I notice a tear slide down Shy Cowboy's face.... run down the stirrup leather.... and rest in the bottom of Old Cowboy's stirrup.... That tear rested in a spot where so many memories were based.... 

Our Small Cowboy, Colton leading Papa's horse to the service

So the day we laid the Older Cowboy to rest was a day of beauty and sadness..... It is so strange how you can feel so much sadness and joy in one heart beat..... Sadness for knowing you will never see or hear the magic or jingle of the Older Cowboy again.....and the Joy because you know the Older Cowboy lived his life the way he wanted until the day he went to live with Jesus....

So when planning for the final day we came across the song "Weakness"...... it was so fitting.... maybe they should have just called it the song about the "Older Cowboy"
Lived my life as a hired man,
Lived the life of a working man,
Lived the life of a gypsy too,
Lived the life of a drunkin fool,
I got a weakness for those ole sway backed horses,
Pretty girls and fine guitars,
Fancy cars and dirty bars,
Theses hands they built mansions,
They built cow standsions,
Rode a many mile or two,
and layed down in a bed or two,
Have a weakness for them kid loving horses,
Pretty girls and fine guitars,
Fancy cars and dirty bars,
These hands ride the rough stock,
Punched post wholes through hard rock,
They wont ever be cruel to you,
Unless you ask them to,
Got a weakness for them hard bucking horses,
Pretty girls and fine guitars,
Fancy cars and dirty bars,
These hands go on the cell block,
Peel coyotes into tight bagged knots,
Tickled a gaitar tune,
But that ain't all they'll do,
Got a weakness for them fast running horses,
Pretty girls and fine guitars,
Fancy cars and dirty bars,
Its a long ways from over,
I see a field of four leaf clover,
Money has always came hard for me,
But that wont always be,
I got a weakness for those ole sway backed horses,
Pretty girls and fine guitars,
Fancy cars and dirty bars,
Pretty girls, my little Martin guitar,
Antique cars and cowboy bars,
I like them new born baby calves,
Weaning time when the moon is at half,
Hungry cows on them cold cold days,
A trip to town when you just get paid,
Fitting saddle and some well worn tack,
Fitting boots and my old felt hat,
Got a weakness for them ole sway backed horses,
Pretty girls and fine guitars,
Fancy cars and dirty bars,
Older Cowboy's Last ride....

It was a wonderful service..... Cowboy Hats.... Horses... and Wagons.......

Someone said...."Today is a day they lay one of the many legendary cowboys of the Osage country to rest.He will not be forgotten and I'm sure will be the source for many smile's and laughs thru conversation for many years to come.Rest in Peace Doug Potter :)"

"Well if you was in need of a cowboy at around 10 o'clock this mornin any where near the Osage country you was S.O.L. cause they was all congregated around a little church in the heart of the Osage in Foraker Ok. to lay to rest a good cowboy and father who was taken home way to soon.It was a wonderful service and a proper send off for a Top Hand."

I don't think I have ever seen so many tears roll off the dirty checks under those cowboy hats..... tears from old wise cowboys and tears from young an crazy hearted small cowboys....

He had many names...... Doug, Dad, Older Cowboy, but ..... Papa Doug is a name many called him!! This is another song we had played..... so fitting!!!

He wore starched white shirts buttoned at the neck,
And he'd sit in the shade and watch the chickens peck.
And his teeth were gone, but what the heck,
I thought that he walked on water.

He said he was a cowboy when he was young.
He could handle a rope and he was good with a gun.
And my mama's daddy was his oldest son,--
And I thought that he walked on water. 

If the story's told, only heaven knows.
But his hat seemed to me like an old halo.
And although his wings, they were never seen.
I thought that he walked on water.

Then he tied a cord to the end of a mop,
And said, "Son, here's a pony, keep her at a trot."
And I'd ride in circles while he laughed a lot.
Then I'd flop down beside him.

And he was ninety years old in sixty-three
And I loved him and he loved me.
And lord, I cried the day he died,

'cause I thought that he walked on water.

If the story's told, only heaven knows.
But his hat seemed to me like an old halo.
And although his wings, they were never seen.
I thought that he walked on water.

So long live the  Older Cowboy, and long live the Legendary Papa Doug...


  1. Amazing,Amy, things I didn't know but am so glad to know and put away with my own memories. He was so loved. I know you all will feel his presence and it will comfort you in the days to come as it will for all of us. Love you.

  2. So sorry for your loss Amy. May God wrap his arms around your family in this time of pain and sorrow.

  3. very nice Amy. Put a tear in my eye and made me really think about alot of things.

  4. Amy, this is a beautiful tribute to a heck of hand,and a man that will be sorely missed by many. Betting he will have a good string of horses going in Heaven before long.

  5. Amy,This is such an amazing tribute, it tells such a wonderful story of love and family. The memories you have will last forever and I know Doug is watching over your family.

  6. Amy well written. I did not know Doug but sounds like a good man.


  7. Amy I don't know you but, I have to say what a tribute to the Old Cowboy father in law (Dad). I know this was hard but memories live on a lifetime something you will never lose. Lena

  8. He would be struttin like a rooster, PROUD of loving words you have written. I only saw him a few times, but he always acted like we were long lost friends. He had a way of making anyone feel right at home. My heart goes out to you and your family. I always say that real cowboys are the last original nomads.. I know he is ridin in tall grass pastures, on the top of fat horses.