Cowboy Wisdom, by Darlene Foster

My Dad was a cowboy. Not the Hollywood type, but a real cowboy – a man who tended cattle. A hardworking man of integrity, loyalty and determination; he would always be seen in his signature cowboy hat and boots, jeans and western shirt. He lived the code of the cowboy where a man’s word was a man’s word and you never broke a promise once made. He believed you should do what has to be done without complaint, take pride in your work and always finish what you start. He was a man of principle; tough but fair. I learned so much from him.

His education included grade seven. Responsibilities on his father’s farm in the spring and fall took him out of school, which put him behind.  By the time he turned fifteen he didn’t bother going back to school being so much older than the rest of the class. In spite of his limited schooling, he was the smartest man I knew. A curious man, Dad believed in continuous learning. His gift of the gab enabled him to start a conversation with almost anyone and he always came away wiser. “You can learn at least one thing from everyone you meet,” became a lesson I never forgot.

Dad read the newspapers and kept up to date on current events, but his busy schedule didn’t permit him to read much else.  At age seventy-five, he finally retired and moved into the city. His love of the outdoors and fresh air, took him on walks to the local library on a regular basis.  Once there, he chose about half a dozen books on a subject he had always wanted to learn more about.  He took the books home, read them front to back and returned with a new subject in mind.  At seventy-five he educated himself and expanded his world. I found this to be most admirable.

There wasn’t much I couldn’t discuss with him.  He taught me the art of conversation, negotiation and debate; valuable lessons that have served me well over the years.  He served as my confidant, financial advisor, political guru, mentor, and he was my hero.  He always had time to listen to my woes and to provide encouraging words.  I didn’t make many major decisions without discussing with him first.  But he wouldn’t tell me what to do; he just helped me look at all sides of the situation.  He encouraged me to be an independent thinker, creative problem solver and not to always look for the easy way.  He claimed, “You make your own luck in this world.” I believe that to be true for the most part, but I sure was lucky to get him for a Dad. His confidence in me and my abilities enabled me to reach higher and not give up on my dreams.

Always a perfect gentleman, he could also swear a blue streak if the occasion called for it.  Like the time he hit his thumb with a hammer while fixing a piece of farm machinery.  He forgot I was in hearing distance.

Life wasn’t always easy for a cowboy but Dad’s amazing sense of humour and positive attitude got him through the tough times.  He loved a good practical joke and April Fool’s was his favourite day.  I can still see the twinkle in his eyes when he knew he got one over on us.  He didn’t mind laughing at himself as well. There were many times he would tell a story and have everyone in stitches.  From him, I learned the value of a good laugh and how to look on the bright side.  He often said, “Others have it worse.”

A tough cowboy on the surface, he was really a big softy.  Dad always found the best in everyone, was a helpful neighbour and a good friend to many.  His love for his animals was evident as was his unfailing devotion to his family.  A generous, loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he made an impact on everyone. When I see traits of him in my children and grandchildren, I am comforted knowing his legacy lives on.

It’s been five years since we lost Dad.  There isn’t a day I don’t think of him, quote him or seek his advice.  He was a true cowboy to the last.


Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, employment counsellor, ESL teacher, wife, mother and grandmother. Brought up on a ranch in Southern Alberta, she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She lives with her husband and their black cat, Monkey on the west coast of BC. She believes that everyone is capable of reaching their dreams.

Connect with Darlene on her website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Books available here.

Opening photo – Myshellyroo, Photobucket


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers

30 responses to “Cowboy Wisdom, by Darlene Foster

  1. That was an awesome post, Darlene – a fantastic tribute to your dad. Sounds like the kind of man worth knowin’ – & there aren’t many of them left.

  2. Pingback: What I learned from a Cowboy « Darlene Foster's Blog

  3. Thanks for posting this Karen. My Dad had a cowboy hat just like the one featured. Perfect!!

  4. Darlene, I would have loved your dad–thanks so much for sharing him with us!

  5. Glenda Gaetz (nee Sauer)

    What a beautiful story about your Father. He sounds like a wonderful Man, and I’m sure he is looking down at you with pride. 🙂

  6. jackie

    Some great reflections on your dad…thanks for sharing. A gentleman and a cowboy indeed. 🙂

  7. Maybe this just accentuates the age gap between your mom and my dad, but I always thought of your parents as grandparent figures. We loved going to visit them and Uncle’s smile and bright blue eyes twinkling as he told his fascinating stories will always be a well-loved part of my childhood. (There, now you’ve gone and made me cry!)

  8. Darlene – How nice to hear the stories of your Dad – he was a wonderful man and he comes to mind often when I see a cowboy out on his horse. I am honoured to be related to him.

  9. What a beautiful tribute to your father . . .

  10. So many new faces and names visiting! 🙂 Having a Father’s Day theme week was a little bittersweet for me – I had no father in my picture. But! Love to share others’ stories. And later this weekend will pay tribute to the best father I know – my son. Thank you, all, for your wonderful comments.

  11. What a lovely dad. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this post.

  12. A lovely post, Darlene. Every girl needs a great dad for a role model. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Darlene,
    Your father sounds like a real, man’s-man and reminds me of one of my Grandfathers. What a great role model for you to be blessed with, and certainly someone who you can be proud to call your, “dad.” Thank you for sharing this!

  14. I know I would have loved your dad — salt of the earth. Your description reminds me of the father of a childhood friend of mine, Henry Sanders. He ran a large cattle farm, but he spent his share of time in the saddle too. Growing up in Virginia, he was the closest I came to knowing a true cowboy. Your wonderful piece has brought back great memories of my visits to their farm.

    • Thanks for your comments. So pleased you enjoyed the post. Dad would Have said, “Shucks, it was nothing.I was just doing my job” He wouldn’t have liked being made a fuss over.

  15. Like the photo of your dad, Darlene, especially his hat. Your tribute to him touches and inspires. May your memories always stay close.
    Blessings – Maxi

  16. A wonderful post, Darlene and such a great tribute to your dad.

  17. It was lovely to read about you dad and see a picture of him on your blog. Sounds like he was a great person and an inspirational figure in your life.

  18. Pingback: My Cowboy Dad | Darlene Foster's Blog

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