At Home on the Range: If I could give you one thing … |

At Home on the Range: If I could give you one thing …

by Jody White

Elsmere, Neb.

If I could tell you something that I thought could really make a difference in your life I would tell you that life is just too short to sweat the small stuff, and that there’s a lot of small stuff out there. And that noticing and appreciating all the little blessings God has given us often takes the edge off a lot of that stuff we do sweat, and do despair.

The toothy grin on a young child’s face; glorious sunrises and beautiful sunsets; green grass; clear water; fat cows and healthy calves; the hoar frost that encases the branches of trees and the barb wire of fences in shimmering crystal; the temperamental tractor that started even though you forgot to plug it in when the temperature was 15 below; the laughter in the eyes of an old woman or the wisdom of a man who has lived a long and discerning life and is willing to share that wisdom; a good horse; a faithful dog; the sound of a belly laugh; and the feeling of being wrapped in the warm arms of family ” and if not family then of friends ” these things are all part of the real stuff of life.

On these cold winter days, when the sky spits snow and the color grey lays like a mantle around us, I have a tendency to get despondent. Maybe you do too. I start counting the “drearies,” so to speak, the mistakes, the “what if’s” and all the “oh no’s” of life. But I am fortunate in the fact that I have known special people who have unwittingly shown me, by example, some of the secrets of living life well. How you live life is always a choice. There have been many men and woman who never knew that their words, or their attitudes, wielded such influence over at least one person … me!

Two people that I think about most often are gone now. Both were ranch women; wives and mothers who were content with many things in their lives: Micky White, and Aileen Bugas.

Micky was my sister-in-law, who after a short but courageous fight with cancer died a little over a year ago. But her zest for life and her ability to turn whatever kind of a situation she was in into something good, are things I will hold on to, and always remember. She could have easily been the one who coined the phrase, “If life throws you a lemon … make lemonade,” because that’s how she lived her life. Micky taught me the fine art of “grandmothering.” I’d watch her get down on her knees with her grandkids, and become one of them. She could make work seem like play. She was an inspiration.

As was Aileen. I was so glad to have had the privilege of knowing Aileen early in my married “ranch” life. She became my compass, my North Star so to speak. She and her husband, Lawrence, had a large family. The kind of family you would have liked to have been a part of, the kind you read about in books. In all the years I knew Aileen I never heard her say a mean thing about anyone, or for that matter ever complain about any of the curves life had thrown her. And in her quiet gentle way she taught me much about being a ranch wife, mother, and neighbor. I discovered the true meaning of optimism from Aileen. There were valuable life lessons to be learned from both of these women.

Another friend, Velda Barlow, taught me to never be afraid to laugh at myself because that is the most freeing kind of laughter there is. And so much better then laughing at someone else. In short, I guess the greatest lesson I learned was that in the overall scheme of things there is nothing that we will be able to take with us when we depart from this earth. But … there is a lot we can leave behind that will make a lasting difference in the lives of others.

I just hope I can be a Micky or an Aileen or a Velda in the life of someone else.