Ed was a cowboy in the true st form. His face was wheathered like the old black hat he wore. The many years of riding the grub line had taken it's toll, so now ED has settled to horse shoeing to make a living. Even now with his paunchy bellie, Ed was still able to sweet talk his latest 'darlin' into free room and board. His only real expence would have been to board his two horses, except that I had extra place for them at my spread. This meant that ED didn't have to shoe many horses to get by, so he would spend many hours sitting in my office telling one yarn after another, wether I was listening or not.
I had met ED twenty five years earlier. I had hired on as a laborer on a ranch during summer break in college. ED decided the first day that I needed a little excitement in my life and soon I found my self aboard a horse for the first time in my life. In stead of the disaster every one expected, I was able to stay atop the now bucking horse until he finaly stood still. ED then proclaimed that I was no longer a greenhorn and then spent the rest of the day instilling in me a love of horse that I still have today. When I returned to college, I don't remember a Sunday morning that my new wife and I didn't wake to find ED asleep on the sofa. Sometimes he might have his latest 'darlin' with him. When he woke , off to the kitchen he went to prepare biscuts and gravy for all. In the afternoon, we would take a drive to look over a horse that just might have 'potential'. When the owner came about, it was times for a few yarns to be told.
After college, ED drifted in and out of our lives, always showing up for the most important events. When we moved into our new home, ED was there for the proper placement of the Sofa. The day we brought little Angel home, ED was standing there with most beautiful spotted pony a girl could ask for. Two years later when God took our Angel home, it was ED's tears that softened the earth as he prepared her finale resting place. When the right time came, ED took us and the spotted pony to the open range and set her free so no one but the Angels would ever ride her. Ed said it was the cowboy way.
We did not see much of ED for the next few years. Only a few minutes would he stay, but each time I visited Angel's grave, fresh wild flowers were found. Placed in a way only a cowboy would. One Sunday morning, things came back to normal. We found ED asleep on the sofa. In the kitchen was the makings for biscits and gravy. As the years moved on, ED spent more time here than gone. We fixed up an old shed so inbetween 'darlins' Ed had a place of his own to stay. Success had made it possible for me to develope a ranch which I wanted ED to be the boss of. ED declined saying he would rather be free adviser than make to much money. He was afraid that one of his 'darlins' would then want to make things pernament.
One day in my office, with ED there as usual, I was preparing for a trip to Reno, Nevada when ED stated he would go with me. When we were about to leave Reno, ED directed me to drive into the country. Then up a drive to a large house on a hill. Getting out of the car, ED simply said 'lets see who is home'. Without knocking we went in and were met by a woman who just pointed up the staircase. After watching ED mount the stairs, the woman explained that she was ED's sister Joan and that ED was the son of one of the wealthiest ranch families in the area. It was ED's choice to live the simple cowboy life, no help of any sort from his family. Later as we left, ED never looked back saying it was the cowboy way.
A year later, we greived with ED at his mothers funeral. Then came that terrible day, my fair haired wife went to be with our Angel. Together our tears we softened the ground. Then because of the bills, the ranch had to be sold, so two cowboys took a finale ride. Back at the empty house, with out a good bye, we parted our lives.
The years slipped by until the day when ED called in his simple way. 'Stop on by if you get a chance' The next day I drove up to the house on the hill where on the porch sat a old cowboy. We began to talk and the years melted away as we laughed and cried long into the night. Then with a simple sigh ED's life was over. ED would have enjoyed his funeral, all his frieds were there , many yarns were spun. When the words were over and all had gone. I stood where ED rested and said in the cowboy way 'so long old pard' and walked away