Pa Pa’s Cow Wreck
By Jon Angell
Rodeo cowboys often get together and swap stories of the wrecks they have suffered. These wrecks are physical in nature. Those of us active in the cattle business often talk of cattle wrecks, too. These tend to be financial in nature. Every so often cattlemen suffer wrecks that have more of a rodeo nature than the ones they are normally accustom. Allow me to relay one such story that recently befell my dad, Luther.
As I sat at home doing bookwork I answered the phone on a Thursday morning to hear, “Uncle Jon, a cow has knocked Pa Pa down, can you come to the Grubb’s farm and help me get him up?” From my nephew Jensyn’s tone one might not know that this was a call of a serious nature, but you have to know him to understand that he is the epitome of the phrase “even keel.” I’ve never known him to express a lot of emotion. However, my knowledge that dad was seventy-five years old and his grandson was calling me because he wasn’t getting up, led me to believe this was worse than his tone implied.
It took me a few short minutes to make the three mile drive to the farm. Sure enough there they were behind the barn with dad in the mud not halfway propped up against the fence. Jensyn and I on each side grasped his belt and tugged him up leading him to sit down on a feed trough while I fetched the truck. Dad unable to move his right arm and in a good deal of … let’s say discomfort … it was obvious we had at the least a broken arm.
As we prepared to load our patient, I asked what happened. It seems that Luther had decided to enlist his grandson to help sort through some cows to sell, as the slaughter cow market had recently improved. As they worked, a wild renegade emerged from the bunch and with head lowered targeted Luther in the seat meat. As the cow made contact with her intended target with good speed, she raised her head launching Luther skyward. As he landed hard the old hussy turned and proceeded to maul the old guy in the mud while he was down. Jensyn was able to muster his best rodeo clown imitation to distract the brute till she rejoined the bunch.
Luther said he had no idea it was coming. The funny thing was in the split second it took to be hoisted in the air, he not only realized exactly what was happening, he new exactly which one was doing it! Now that says something about Luther’s cowboying skills, knowing your cows good enough to identify a cow from your herd by the seat of your pants while you gaze at the sky. Impressive don’t you think?
I took it as a positive sign as I began to drive out of the lot to the emergency room, Luther was barking orders to Jensyn on where to put the cows and how to fix the gates. But then I had to listen to grumplin’ and gasps at every bump to the hospital for thirty miles. Funny, I never noticed before that the road had a few potholes until riding with the newly created bump-o-meter. I told him, “You know you missed the perfect excuse to hire an ambulance, and furthermore if you weren’t such a tight ass and had hire the ambulance you could have had some pain killer for your ride by now.”
I later got my second and most positive sign at the hospital when Luther had began to revive his trademark sense of humor. He told the ER nurse that, “If I had landed on my fat belly instead of my arm I wouldn’t be here.” The hospital staff new just how to handle Luther. After seeing the ER doctor, later a nurse told Dad that they had called Doctor So-And So in to check him out. Luther asked who he was. Without missing a beat she replied, “He is our cow collision specialist.”
His regular doctor, a family friend decided to keep him overnight. I believe he did this mainly as a favor to Mom. Dad isn’t known for being a problem free patient. It wasn’t long after being moved to his room before his need for humor emerged again, likely exaggerated by the prescribed pain killer. He proceeded to contrive an elaborate ruse for his own amusement. Mom had yet to arrive at the hospital. He told his fresh new attending nurse, “It shouldn’t be long before a cranky old woman will arrive looking for me, whatever you do make sure you don’t let her in my room or there is going to be big trouble.
“Are you serious?”
“Darn right I’m serious. My wife and I have had trouble and I’m not feeling up to and am not going to put up with her. I’m telling you if she comes in here there is going to be big trouble!”
She left the room to line up a defense strategy. Luther had everyone right where he wanted them. The only big trouble coming was when Mom got there to be turned away by Luther’s newly erected defense system. That would have been big trouble! With the ruse perfectly set, Luther couldn’t help himself, but to let it out that he was just jokin’ around. When Mom did make it to the floor’s nurse’s station to ask for Luther Angell’s room, before the nurse could type in the name, one of her co-workers offered, “He’s the funny old man in room 4222.” It appears that just as Luther has left an impression around the salebarn, he is setting out to leave an impression on Boone Hospital.
The following day over lunch at the salebarn café, I shared the above story with Luther’s peers, a couple of our senior cattle buyers, Billy John and David Thompson. The pair made it clear that they no longer sort cattle, because “there is no way they can get out of the way any more.” They suggested that Luther should follow their example. Billy went on to tell me, “Jon, let me tell ya something. You hear all these folks talk about the golden years…, well, don’t believe ‘em, it’s a big lie! If I had any golden years, they were back when I was eighteen to twenty-four.”
Luther told me he never had broke anything that required a cast. I told him that having a cast in the heat of July and August would give him the full benefit of the experience. What is the definition of the “golden years” anyway? Aren’t the“golden years” supposed to be all about doing what you want to do, feel like doing, and experiencing the things you haven’t yet got around to. If that’s the case, it looks to me Luther is wildly successful at living in his “golden years.”