Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



     Is there a special day back there in your mind?  Maybe graduation?  Perhaps the birth of a grandchild?  Or the moment you realized you were in love…and that certain someone loved you back?  I had one the other day.  A special day; a most special day indeed.
     Three months ago, I had a bizarre accident.  What seemed to be a minor scrape turned into a fear-filled nightmare.  After breaking up a fight between two big barn cats, I was annoyed that the scratches on my arm would be a nuisance for a couple of weeks.  I underestimated the actual amount of “annoyance” and “nuisance” a great deal.  Thirty days later, my hand was paralyzed.  That was when the orthopedic surgeon said, “I have my doubts you will regain the use of that hand!” 
     Later that same evening, my wife and I sat quietly on the front porch of our farmhouse staring out at the pasture at dusk.  The sunset was so beautiful.  Light danced off the fences, and the surface of the pool down the hill sparkled.  The steers grazed in the pasture.  Such peace.  Such calm.  And then our eyes found the arena.
The arena…
     Sherry and I fell in love going to ropings.  We packed lunches, we danced, we loved the people, the lifestyle, and most of all, we loved the world of horses, the world of roping, and the sights, smells, and sounds of the thing called rodeo!
     After buying a new farm, we built fences and barns for the animals, and at last, we built the arena.  No matter how hot, no matter how hard the work, each day when we finished we sat on the porch and talked of the time when friends would come…and we would rope!  We laughed at our silliness of preparing menus for our guests a year in advance, and we dreamed of the day when they would all come.  And now?  Now on this day, we sat on the porch - neither of us looking at my hand.  Neither of us speaking about something we didn’t want to see and something we didn’t want to hear.  That we would never again be allowed – never have the privilege again - of roping on Shine and Blue.  We didn’t speak much during that sunset.  When the light had faded, she said quietly, “Maybe he is wrong.  We have to pray that he’s wrong.”
     Ninety days later…
     The time had come.  Or at least it would be here in a few minutes.  Riding Blue in the arena, I kept looking down the lane from our farm to the adjacent county road.  They would be coming soon…my friends.  Coming to rope.  And I was scared to death.
     For three months, I not only did what the doctors and physical therapists said to do to rehab my hand.  I did ten times what they said to do.  If they told me to do something thirty times, I did it three hundred times.  The hand did not heal rapidly, but it did heal.  Still so sore I could hardly stand it, but at least now it would move.  Flexibility, dexterity, and substantial strength had returned.  But could I rope again? 
     During the past few weeks, I had roped the dummy every day.  Sufficient strength and force had returned.  But roping from Blue’s back would be very different.  Scared, hand hurt like crazy.  “Can I dally?” The first truck and trailer pulled in my driveway.  In a short time, several cowboys – and cowgirls – were all present and accounted for.  “C’mon, Miguel.  Let’s see if you can do it,” said one.
     “Uh…no,” I said,  “Blue’s not quite warmed up yet, and uh…I’m going to turn out a couple of pens for all of you first.”  Sherry’s eyes met mine.  I knew she was looking to see if there was fear in my face.  There was.  She looked away.
      A short time later, I found myself riding Blue in the box for the first time since the injury.  Wondered why I was doing it.  “I’m sixty-three for goodness’ sake.  Why am I doing this?  Will I break my hand?  Probably look like a fool in front of all these people.  What if I start crying?”  And then I heard…
     “Good luck, dear.”  Turning, I saw Sherry just outside the head box.
     I looked back at Jerry V. working the chute.  Blue was quivering with excitement.
     “Let him out,” I said.  Steer came hard and clean – and the Blue Man came right with him.  In the next few moments, I knew why I was doing it…
     Once again, my pony and I were flying through the sky – me and this fine blue horse the Lord saw fit to let be with me since the day he was born.  Some ten years now we have been together.  In all that time after roping countless steers, the Blue Man has tried with all his heart on each and every one.  And now I felt his powerful muscles churning with everything he had to get his daddy to the spot.
     “Dere he his, Pop.  Blue Man gotcha’ dere.  Stick it on him, Pop!”
     Wind in my face, the sound of his feet hitting the earth, the rope singing in my hand, smell his sweet sweat… “This is why I do it!  This is why I do it.”
Rope shoots from my hand, LOOP GOES ON!  “Can I dally?”  YES!  Blue scoots to the left, heeler scoops him up…we’re clean!
Half-way down the arena I dismount from Blue.  I’m shaking all over. Everyone is very quiet.  Sherry is walking toward me.  Her eyes are shiny…
     “Well done,” she says holding on to me.
     “I love you,” I said squeezing her back.
     “I love you too,” she said.
     “I love you too,” I said crying and laughing at the same time.
     “Our friends came.  We roped,” she said.  “It’s a special day.”
     “Yes,” I said.  “A special day.”

                                                                                               -- Michael Johnson





Michael heading for the great Sonny Gould

Michael & Blue

Healing Shine

The Rowdy Cow Dog

Please stop
and sign our Guestbook

Send Michael
an Email

Michael Johnson Books
1172 CR 4122  Campbell, Texas 75422  (903) 862-2082

Copyright © 2003 Michael Johnson Books. All rights reserved.
webmaster pswope@candw-webmasters.com