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Published June 07, 2010, 03:56 PM

Godspeed gentle father

TOWNER, N.D. — I once opened a Chinese fortune cookie and read on the little slip of paper, “A gentleman is a gentle man.” I’m not usually struck with profundity when opening these mass-produced cardboard-like cookies, but that one stuck with me because it reminded me of my father.

By: Ryan Taylor,

TOWNER, N.D. — I once opened a Chinese fortune cookie and read on the little slip of paper, “A gentleman is a gentle man.” I’m not usually struck with profundity when opening these mass-produced cardboard-like cookies, but that one stuck with me because it reminded me of my father.

A gentle man. A gentle man who treated people with an abundance of kindness. A gentle man who used compliments and suggestions to motivate us kids in our ranch work, kept any temper he had in check and never belittled us. A gentleness that suited him well in truly caring for the cattle and horses entrusted to him on the ranch.

I’ll take that fortune cookie definition of the word over others I’ve read in the dictionary that refer to things like noble birth, superior social position or, the worst of them, “a man who considers manual labor to be beneath him.”

No, my father, who only owned one suit, his “funeral suit,” for carrying so many friends and neighbors as pallbearer, was not a tuxedo-clad kind of gentleman. He was the kind of gentleman of the remaining definitions — polite, considerate, gracious. One with little or no social position who dedicated his life to manual labor on the ranch.

My father’s gentle soul left his body on the most beautiful and perfect of spring days on the prairie. We bid him goodbye and carried his casket to the cemetery by horse-drawn wagon to be laid next to the wife he missed so much on a day nearly as beautiful.

So here I am, nearly 40 years old, with both parents departed. I’m a far cry from an orphaned infant, but I still feel the weight of the void. Your parents get you raised, educated and on your way by the time you’re 18 or 22 or 26; it shouldn’t be so hard to let them go. But it is. With all the time with them we’re given, we still wish for more.

Traits to aspire to

I spent much of my life trying to be like Dad, a pretty worthy goal. Anyone who knew him would say it was a goal worth shooting for. Granted, I’ve grown to be different than Dad in many ways, probably because of my mother’s influence, but I hope I can carry on a few of my father’s traits.

I often wondered how Dad became such a good father. His own father died when he was just 18 months old and his mother never remarried. He didn’t grow up with a man in the house to learn from.

He did find a father figure in his father’s cousin from Montana who took Dad in at his horse ranch for several summers starting when he was 11 years old in the early 1930s. Probably an important time for a boy to have the influence of a grown man in his life.

However it happened, Dad learned how to work and work hard, but also how to take time for family, friends and neighbors. He knew the value of a dollar and how to save a few by getting by with what he had, but he never let himself fall victim to the endless race for more dollars and more material goods to stack around him and brag about.

He put more stock in the value of people and relationships than material things and that’s why he’d always invite you to the house for a cup of coffee or take the time to visit. That’s why he’ll be missed. Because he took the time to know you and made time available for you to know him, his endearing smile, the timbre of his voice as he shared a story, his gentle nature.

And some of us will continue to try our best to be like him. God bless the memory of Bud Taylor.

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