Life turns you around many times. Walking up to a vacant, burned house I encountered a long ago acquaintance. Ernest kept pulling me into his conversation like a vortex of the unseen wind storm. Ernie tells me he was a cowboy and bronc rider. I need to let Ernie tell this story therefore;
I suffered through cancer illness, being told I had 6 months to die. Trying all treatments, continuing to visit my mortality, I was offered an experimental treatment. Being told this treatment will cure you or kill you. What a choice.
Fortunately, I survived and became disease free at the late age of 55. Now, I have been a cowboy all my life. Weighing 120 lbs. at best, I was encouraged to ride. I never had a problem handling the demands. I was a "tunnel rat" in Vietnam, qualified in jump school and was one touch guy. Cancer kick my butt.
I have not lied to my wife many times, but this time I did. I told her I had a seminar to attend now that I had retired from rodeo. I entered my rodeo for the bronc riding, paying my entry fee. The powers to be asked could I handle this and of course my response was, "I paid my entry fee".
Now, I drew a well seasoned mare for my ride in the first go around. She had a butt as wide as a jeep and knew the program. I slide onto her back, wrapped my grip and felt her lean against the shut. This is an old trick to compress your leg and put it numb. What a mare.
Out of the shut, she bucked and I followed with marking the forelegs and to the flanks, as required. But, the flanks were not there. She had disappeared from under me and I hit the dirt. The mare come down on top of me, knocking the breath out of me. Breath gone from my small body, I made it to my hands and knees. Suddenly I heard the crowd and looked up to see this mare charging to me. Finding my legs I hit the fence and vaulted to safety. Recovering my breath in the same movement may have saved my butt.
Now, guts are guts. However, the brain needed to kick in. After the 1st. go around, only 7 riders remained. Others had dislocated shoulder, broken legs and other injuries. Aha, I had a chance to finish in the money. Now, rodeo is not known for a drug problem. However, a friend offered me a pink pill to overcome my soreness. I learned to call this the don't give a s--- pill. I rode in the 2Nd go round without bucking off. However, the pain returned. I knew I had a few cracked ribs.
Finally coming to my senses, I withdrew from the event. The pain continued, so upon leaving the rodeo I visited a doc. The doc ordered all kinds of tests, including a "nuclear" medicine test. Well, I always liked Christmas but hated stringing all those multi-colored lights. The scan made me look like a Christmas tree with more lights than the national tree. The Doc indicated each hot spot was a broken bone, previous broken bone and fracture. I explained I was a rodeo rider for many years and this was not unusual. He smiled gently and asked if I had a PBR card. Of course I presented the card, proudly. Well, he planted a large "VOID" on my card, returning it to me with a smile. He indicated my riding days were over.
He was right, but to not give up easily, I submitted the card to Professional Bronc/Bull Riders Association. Evidently, they have a similar attitude to this little guy. They returned the card with a "LIFE TIME" membership.
Ernie, made my day. He is a true character in my soft days. Ernie was wounded in Vietnam, suffered many rodeo injuries and made a life in his own way. My visit with Ernie was enlightening to say the least. I can ONLY HOPE that I have the opportunity to meet more "Ernie's" in my soft days.