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Cowboy Logic: The week in words

TOWNER, N.D. - A wise columnist always would have a column or two "in the can" and ready to go if, for some reason, he just couldn't get one written in a given week.

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TOWNER, N.D. - A wise columnist always would have a column or two "in the can" and ready to go if, for some reason, he just couldn't get one written in a given week.

Get sick, have a family emergency or realize its deadline time in the middle of a romantic cruise with no desire to write a column? No problem, just pull that spare column written months ago out of the hopper and send it in. Easy as pie.

I, however, am not a wise columnist. Nothing written up and put on ice to use when needed.

Maybe I'm kind of like a fine chef who prides himself on making everything fresh, from scratch. My columns are written fresh every other week, usually scratched together minutes ahead of the absolutely final deadline.

This week, I'm not on a romantic cruise and wishing I had a spare column to fall back on. But I am coughing, sniffling, stuffed up, aching and battling through the fog of a cold and flu. And, this week, my wife's father passed away and I'm traveling and doing my foggy best to help her and my in-laws mourn his loss. On top of that, I'm trying to write this column.

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Saying farewell

My father-in-law had been ill for a long time. He never was

really healthy in the five years I knew him, and even long before that. Bottled oxygen, oxygen concentrators, a lot of hose and an assortment of other medical advances kept him going from day to day.

We couldn't say it was unexpected, but that doesn't necessarily make it any easier. Still, the struggle is over.

I first met my future father-in-law when I had the ritual supper with the parents on an early date. I went to the door, and my wife still was downstairs getting ready. We didn't see her for 15 or 20 minutes. He gave me a little advice about women, hair and makeup.

"Better get used to waiting for them," I think he said.

But I sat down by the kitchen counter with this fella I'd never met and we talked the whole time without so much as an awkward pause. We discussed cattle, the markets and whatever else. He was a good visitor.

Our relationship always was cordial. He was Farm Bureau Republican, and I was raised Farmers Union Democrat. We were both Lutheran and mostly Norwegian. We never let any of that get in the way of our kitchen-counter friendship. He didn't even pause when I asked permission to marry his daughter.

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He wasn't perfect. None of us are. But he picked a great partner to share his life with. And he raised a family that anyone could take a lot of pride in.

His funeral packed the white-steepled country church just up the hill from his farm. They came for him and his wife and his children and grandchildren. They brought food and fed the masses like only a little rural community can.

There were plenty of stories and memories, a few laughs and a few tears, as everyone said goodbye in their own way.

It must have been a good funeral because I heard a lot of people say, "He should've been here, he'd of really enjoyed it."

I think maybe he was, and I'm sure that he did.

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