Occasionally we have an opportunity to meet someone out of the ordinary. Over the course of the last several years, I’ve had just such an opportunity, but I didn’t realize what an honor it was until just recently.
Aubrey Lord was a true American cowboy.
It’s been said that there wasn’t a horse that could throw him and in his day he was considered one of the best rodeo riders in North America. He was not a one or two event rider; in fact, he often competed in all rodeo events – including bull riding.
Aub is The Wife’s uncle. I first met him about eight years ago. He was not a talkative man – in fact, I’d be surprised if he spoke more than a paragraph a day. He was a hard worker and quite stoic.
While visiting the Lord Ranch last August, I was busying myself repairing the garage door. Aub came out to help me find a tool and during the course of the “conversation” I discovered that he was a WWII vet and as an infantryman he had walked nearly all the way across Europe.
But it wasn’t until I was officiating at his funeral last Thursday that I discovered what a great cowboy he was. A crowd of over 200 people showed up to honor Aub. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a collection of well-dressed cowboys in my life.
It’s a new day on the Lord Ranch
As I sat behind the podium listening to two of Aub’s friends tell stories about him, I was overtaken by a sense of honor. It isn’t often one gets to meet a man of Aubrey Lord’s stature.
Later, Aub’s son, J.B. Lord, a professional rodeo cowboy with an impressive record, was telling me about his father. He told me how his father really encouraged him to be a bull rider – and what it was like to ride a bull – and get thrown off of one! J.B.’s 15 year old son is also a rising star. The legacy continues.
I’ve grown up idolizing TV cowboys. Chuck Conners, James Arness, Ben Cartright, and others. But for this little boy in a man’s body, it was an honor to meet a real cowboy. I will treasure my memories of Aub Lord.
On the morning of the funeral I watched the sun rise over the sand-hills on the far end of the ranch. It was a beautiful sight. A flood of memories washed over my soul. I remember riding the 4-wheeler out amongst the cows with my then 2 year old Darling Daughter. I remember Aub telling me about what it took to raise Black Angus cattle. I remember rescuing an antique farming wheel from the dirt – it’s now propped up against a tree in my back yard. I remember being awoken by the lowing of cattle.
Those were good times. But it’s a new day on the Lord Ranch. I have witnessed the passing of an era.