Part of preparing to relocate from Southeastern Washington State to North Texas, Roan and I experienced one of the roughest landings of both our lives.
But leading up to that, our brother Richard, Roan and her almost-twenties daughter, Opal and I talked for months about combining my household with theirs under one roof. We hashed over each facet and question, until a year later we decided to just do it. I’d move away from my sons’ families. Roan and I would move for her new job in Texas. Richard would keep his job in Boise, spending his weekends in the apartment at the Ranch, and Opal would take an apartment in town close to her job.
In three days including travel time, Roan and I did what often takes months. We located the best home for the two of us for the next two years, signed a lease and then headed for the airport to return and pack it all up.
On the flight back to Washington we were road weary and too physically exhausted to sleep when the Boeing 727 began lifting, dropping and seemed to twist before we approached the Gorge. Within a few minutes, I turned my head down to look around my shoulder and noticed white knuckles all down the aisle. Then the flight attendants strapped in too, announcing we were experiencing some turbulence, blah, blah, blah – an understatement.
Instinctively, I began to pray to remain calm. The rollercoaster ride of the past few years flashed a few still shots through my mind. But then suddenly, I saw like a video, scenes from a rodeo years before playing a continuous loop. I understood the heavenly reply immediately.
With the next upward buck from beneath me and a hard dip to the right, balancing on my seat, I lined up my head, hips and heels, I could feel reigns in both hands, straight but loose and close to the mane. Soon I leaned into the turns as I rode around the barrels. Roan caught on, laughed and let out a “whoop!”
Grinning, she lifted one arm up as we lunged and rocked along, not bothering to look at the other passengers around us. Determined to ride it out, all previous drama faded into oblivion. All I could hear was:
“… Life’s a highway
There’s only one way
You’re gonna get through it
When she starts to twist
Be more like Chris
Pull your hat down tight
And just LeDoux it…*
Though we boarded, weary and worn, we walked off that plane onto the Pasco tarmac with our packs slung over one shoulder feeling delightfully revived. Striding along, we glanced at one another and I had to say it, “Good ride.”
There’s been a few times since when sliding off and walking away crossed my mind. Instead, I pull my hat down tight…
* Good Ride Cowboy, written by Jerrod Niemann, Bryan Kennedy, Richie Brown and Bob Doyle, recorded by Garth Brooks in tribute to Chris LeDoux (October 2, 1948 – March 9, 2005). Emi Blackwood Music Inc., Major Bob Music Inc., First Wind Music, Major Bob Music Inc. O/B/o Cowboy Hat Trick Music, Major Bob Music Co. Inc., New Songs Of Sea Gayle, Rope And Dally Music.