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Published February 02, 2009, 12:00 AM

COWBOY LOGIC: Getting used to life without Mom

TOWNER, N.D. — Of all the blessings I’ve been given in life, I may be most thankful for the blessing of close relationships with my parents. “Mama’s boy” and “Daddy’s helper” probably were fitting terms for me growing up on the ranch.

By: Ryan Taylor, Agweek

TOWNER, N.D. — Of all the blessings I’ve been given in life, I may be most thankful for the blessing of close relationships with my parents. “Mama’s boy” and “Daddy’s helper” probably were fitting terms for me growing up on the ranch.

On a family ranch, growing up doesn’t necessarily mean leaving home or increasing the emotional or physical distance between yourself and the two people who raised you. For better or worse, the next generation to take over an outfit stays pretty close to the generation who’s passing it down.

Aside from college years and some short-term jobs away from the ranch, I never got farther than a mile away from my folks when I built our little homestead down the road from them.

That makes it all the harder now to say goodbye to Mom. The lady who brought me into this world left this world Jan. 17 after a 2½-month struggle with late-stage ovarian cancer.

Living large

Losing a parent, no matter what their age or ailment or circumstance, is a hard thing to go through. And most of us get to experience it if the common parental wish comes true — that their children outlive them.

One way we get through the grief is to remember the good years of their life. Mom wasn’t always 76 years old and sick. She was an amazing person with a big personality, a broad smile and a quick wit.

She was a memorable lady with a memorable name — Liz Taylor. She was different from the Liz Taylor of Hollywood fame. She wasn’t a movie star, and she only had one husband, but she was famous, at least around these parts.

She was famous for her wit and good humor. She was famous for her fiddle playing. Self-taught, Mom played her fiddle a little differently than most. Instead of holding the fiddle under her chin, she kind of held it between her hip and her rib cage. The uniqueness of it inevitably would invite someone to ask her why she held it there, and my gray-haired mother always would smile and say, without missing a beat, “Well, it made for better tips when I used to play in a topless bar!”

She was famous for her divergent talents. She was a talented artist and writer who could set down her brushes or her pen, pick up a rifle or a shotgun and use them with equal skill. She taught me how to shoot a gun, she took me hunting and she helped me learn how to trap coyotes on the ranch when I was a lad. Not ordinary things for a mother to teach her son, but she was no ordinary mother.

She was famous for her juneberry pie, her Norwegian doughnuts and her black, boiled coffee. The Juneberries came from the sandhills where she loved to walk and pick them from the bushes, the doughnuts came from her mother’s old, handwritten recipe that hung on the wall, and the black, boiled coffee came from hours of simmering and adding equal parts of water and coffee grounds as the day wore on.

The hardest part now is to think that I’ll never share another cup of that coffee with her, or hear the laughter in her voice as she makes a wise-cracking comment or see the sparkle in her eyes that showed the true zest she had for her talented life.

But I have all the memories made before she got so sick, and I’ll hold those memories dear as I share them with our children, who will miss out on a wonderful grandma. God bless you, Mom. And Godspeed your journey home.