Yes, it has been quite a ride and thankfully, I’m still riding, physically and metaphorically. I don’t usually select books of short stories. They fill up less than a shelf in my collection. I, like many, prefer getting into a substantial novel, inside the minds of characters, so that I can vicariously experience what they are experiencing.
So why, you ask, did I publish a story collection? I’m still waiting for the answer to that question, but it is my understanding that God requires us to have patience. The answer will come. I think, one day, I will be happy that I did.
It does have a table of contents and an index, so some early readers skipped around, reading the parts they found interesting. That’s fine. That’s one of the reasons for a table of contents.
Back to why I wrote this book. For now, the best explanation is that it all began with the end—the end of my father’s life. He has been gone more than forty years now, but my memories of him seem more vivid than ever. And his funeral lingers in my mind. I don’t exactly feel guilty, but I know that the services did not do him justice. One day, I don’t remember exactly when or why, I started writing what I would have said then if I had been as mature as I am now.
I wanted my children and grandchildren, of course, to read that never-delivered eulogy. When most of us get well beyond the halfway mark in our lives, we begin to think about the end and about our legacy. We think about the mistakes we made, things we wish we could take back, things we wish we had done, the hurts we inflicted. We want to make amends, keep the ones who come after from repeating our mistakes. But we also examine the blessings, the things that made us into what we have become. Life is lived forward, but understood backward.
I suppose it is a natural tendency to think that we can save our loved ones from the mistakes we made, to show by example how life teaches us lessons. So I began gathering together what I considered to be the most entertaining stories I have ever written. Then I added several I had always wanted to write about. I tried to include a few of life’s lessons in an entertaining way, maybe a little inspiration.
I wrote about people I have known and admired—folks like Annie Golightly, an accomplished author, singer, and poet who rode horseback from Fort Worth, Texas to Miles City, Montana—the only woman drover on the Great American Cattle Drive. And Brenda Black White, also a published poet who wrote and performed her poetry nationwide while enduring the torture of a crippling disease for more than forty years.
I often proclaim that I write what I know. But in the last section of this book, it may seem that I break that practice when I write about the Bible and faith. Here’s my thinking on that. I do know what it is like to seek and doubt and want to understand. I do know what it is like to be hindered by doubts or actions when I want to have faith that is invincible and unwavering. I also know what it is like to find some answers and to be aware of God’s past, present, and future role in my life. I had my doubts, but an early morning horseback ride convinced me to leave this part in the book.
So, from stories about friends (human and animal), singers, songwriters, authors, cowboys and ranching, bucket lists, writing and reading, family stories, presentations, life’s final songs, to believing in a grand thing—this is my best. I hope you will see a little of your own life reflected in these pages. Maybe a lesson to be learned, inspiration to be had.