WHAT LOVE IS…
At one time, I thought I knew.
What love is I mean. Growing older, I’m learning more about
that. Seeing it more clearly now. It’s really something
you know – this thing called love. I wonder how the
evolutionists explain why we have love. Don’t know, but I
do know one thing. However they explain it, they’re wrong.
Surely love can only come from the Divine.
Have you ever said, “I don’t deserve this?” I
mean when things are bad and you’re just skiddin’ along on
your belly - maybe like when you’re broke and alone? Ever
felt like saying, “Wait a minute here! I’ve worked hard,
haven’t done anything really evil, and yet my
life is just a mess?” Ever feel that way? I felt that
way just a few years ago. I was lower than low, worried,
and scared…and I said, “I don’t deserve this.” At
times like those, it’s hard to hang on. We think, “What’s
the point? Why try again?”
‘Cause there just may well come a time when we say
those same words - “I don’t deserve this!”- but the
words have the opposite meaning. Things can get so
good we think, “I don’t deserve this either!”
Happened to me - so it can happen to you. You might meet
somebody. I did. You might even get older and see more
clearly what love is. Here’s what happened…
I met Sherry. She was a former coach, she was
athletic, she had a high-level position at the university,
and she treated the President and the gardener exactly the
same way. She was good with people, she loved my horses,
and she could braid their manes ten times better than I ever
thought about – so after cooking together and roping
together, we fell in love together. Like people do when
that happens, we decided to get married. Naturally, that
requires a wedding – so we planned one. And all the while
we were doing that, I’m thinking, “Wait a minute
here. I don’t deserve this. I haven’t done anything
wonderful – I’m just the same old washed-up calf-roper I
always was. Why are all these precious things happening to
me?” And then the day came…
June 6th was just gorgeous around six p. m.
I found myself standing in a garden – in front of pastor
Monte Stewart - with a hundred people. Looking around, I
became very conscious of what love really is. It’s
so big, has so many forms, and is so healing. I
really couldn’t look at her much ‘cause if I did - because
she was just so beautiful - I knew I would start crying. So
I looked around and each friend I saw – each loved one –
seemed just as beautiful. They were all there, all the
people who shaped my life into what it is. And it struck
me, they had always been there – they had never
left. They were the ones I called when things were too bad
to bear, and they were the ones I called when things were so
good I could hardly stand the joy. Sherry would later say
she had experienced the same thought. The people who had
always been in her life were still here with her.
Her daughter, Alison and son-in-law, Daryl were there -
two of the nicest, kindest, smartest, most charming people
you will ever meet. Her brothers, and her life-long girl
friends all stood smiling as well.
Bronc was there – the one who helped me so much with my
horses, and my life.
Johnny was there – the man who rode the good red roan,
Bailey, to victory with Shine and me in the Cowtown Coliseum
in Fort Worth, Texas.
Kenneth was there – the man who believed in me and
built confidence in Shine…and in me.
Jerry Lytle was there – the man who when I was 18 years
old, gave me a house to live in, and has been my friend for
forty years now.
Darrell was there, the man who traveled with me over a
quarter-million miles, and helped me so, along with Dr. John
and Kit Hall, my friends for thirty-five years.
And Tacey was there. Little Tacey, the nine-year old.
The one who has endured an unspeakable tragedy. Tacey lost
her eyes to cancer, but there she was…smiling. Smiling
‘cause she had the most important role in the wedding.
Tacey was holding our Australian Shepherd, the Rowdy Cow
Dog, during the ceremony. Rowdy had written Tacey a letter
earlier requesting that she hold him during the wedding
because if she would, he wrote, “Then Sherry Momma and my
daddy will let me come.” Tacey had agreed. And now, there
she stood holding Rowdy – him with his pretty blue scarf
around his neck, and her with the dress she had picked out.
The dress she had insisted to her mother, Tammy, be the same
color as Rowdy’s kerchief. She did a good job. Tacey’s
dress and Rowdy’s scarf matched perfectly. More and more, I
felt and saw what love was.
Then my Mom pops up. How that happened, I haven’t a
clue. She’s been in Heaven for years, but all of a sudden
she’s standing beside me…
“What is it, mother? I’m kinda’ busy here at the
moment. We’re getting’ married, you know,” I said.
“I know that,” she said, with what seemed to me
a bit of impatience. “I came to tell you I really like this
girl. She’s special. I want you to be good to her, you
“Yes ma’am,” I said, like southern boys with
manners do. “But there’s no need to tell me that, mother.
I love her, and of course I’ll be good to her.”
“You better, mister,” she whispered, with that
same snap in her voice. “I met her mom and dad up there –
wonderful people, wonderful people – and her dad really
likes you. Her mom said she was gonna’ try to like you, but
she wasn’t real sure about you yet. I told her, I said, “I
raised him and I’m not real sure about him either, so I’ll
go down there and tell him he better be good to Sherry
‘cause Sherry is special. And her mother said if I would do
that, then she might like you better, so don’t you dare mess
this up, you here me?”
“I won’t, mom. I promise.”
Then my mom said, “Pay attention! The preacher’s
talking to you!”
I felt Sherry poking me
in the ribs, and I realized it was my turn to say something.
The ceremony came to an end, and we all adjourned to the
little Mexican bar we had rented for the reception. (Good
wedding or what?) Sherry welcomed the crowd, then said a
beautiful prayer. After she introduced guests, Tacey and I
did a song for them. Knocked’em dead. We nailed it.
Late that night, as we headed to our rooms at the
hotel, Bronc came over and said, “I was talking to your mom
“You saw my mom?” I stammered at him.
“Yeah,” he said. “We talked a long time. She said she
forgot to tell you something. I wrote it down so I would be
sure and get it right.” He withdrew a folded paper from his
pocket, and after putting his specs on and holding the note
at arm’s length, he said, “She said to tell you…”
“Don’t take a single day for
Ed. Note – Michael
Johnson and Dr. Sharon Johnson were married on June 6th,
2008, at the Heritage Lyday Gardens at Texas A&M
University-Commerce, where Sherry is Assistant
Vice-President. Michael and Sharon live on a horse farm in
Campbell, Texas with four roping horses, ten steers, and The
Rowdy Cow Dog.
Michael's latest release,
Reflections Of A Cowboy, is currently available in audio
book form. The two volume set consists of articles, essays
and excerpts from radio performances about good people and
good horses in the life of an Oklahoma cowboy. Approximately
8 hours in length. Reflections Of A Cowboy in printed form
is scheduled for release in the summer of 2005. Order from