BY RACHEL BITTON
I want to issue a bit of a New Year’s Challenge – in honor of my dad.
January marks the seven-year anniversary of losing my dad. It was already my least favorite month before his passing, but now it’s extra easy to dislike this month. As I have been reflecting on what January will bring, I decided to remember all of the good things my dad did. My dad was a cowboy to the core – complete with the black cowboy hat and a smirk that hid behind his mustache. As one of his friends recently said, “Lon was deliberately generous.” Whether it was his time, talents, or teasing, he gave freely, and he lived a life with few regrets. His family knew we were loved and always supported by him.
On more than one occasion, he would call me and tell me that he had an idea of something to build or do, and most often, it was for someone else. My dad was an artist, saddlemaker, painter, carver, and woodworker, and was always getting called to give advice on animals. If he could see a picture of it, he could build it. I can’t count the times that he built something, just to give it away. He enjoyed seeing people light up when they received it.
It’s not just my dad that was kind this way – it’s the cowboy way! The cowboy and western community are one in a million! You often see competitors helping each other in and out of the arena. Your biggest competitor is also sometimes your biggest fan.
This past summer, my husband badly injured his back and hip right before the Weber County Fair. We had so much to do to get ready. We made some bad fair animal decisions and had two pigs, a show steer, a show goat, and a peewee goat all headed to the fair. It was too much! A good friend called me up and rallied her whole family to come get equipment and feed loaded. They were so efficient; I think they could have moved our entire farm to the fairgrounds in one day. They even cleaned my kitchen and washed every dirty dish before they left. Other people jumped in to help at the fair to get kids and animals cleaned and to their shows. I am forever grateful to be raising my kids in this lifestyle with such great examples of kindness.
I want to issue a bit of a New Year’s Challenge – in honor of my dad. Are you with me? Who can you show extra kindness to? This world is a scary place most days, but I think if we all show more down-home cowboy kindness, we could make it a better place, one by one. Mommas, I think it’s okay if you let your babies grow up to be cowboys. They’re kinder that way.