Saturday, August 14, 2010

Passing the Reins

Goodbye Buff, we will all miss you. Buff Rutherford, a 3rd generation Georgetown, Colorado resident died this week. He was 81 years old.

In the last two weeks of his life, he was still giving... like he always did. This time my 13 year old granddaughter, Olivia, was the object of his generosity.

When Livvy, cashed in her savings to buy an older Arabian mare, "Striking Lady" the start of her dream came true. The first thing she bought was a halter, lead and grooming tools. There was no money for a bridle and saddle.

Her Uncle Joe at Shadows Ranch, where she was keeping "Lady"gave her a small used saddle. It needed work. Grandma was worried about the leather, and would it be safe. There were parts missing. Thinking of the best person to evaluate the safety for her granddaughter, Grandma called her friend, Buff, the old cowboy, who gladly offered to look it over for us.

It was a match made in heaven for a little girl and a old cowboy. She hung on every word, as he explained what needed to be done. "I've got a lot of cinches," Buff said as he dug through a box of them. "Here's one that looks like it would fit." As he showed her the nearly new cinch, Buff smiled that quiet smile and told her, "You can have it."

Livvy asked about what a "dog-bit" looked like. With the customary patience, Buff was known for, he brought out a small box of bits and explained several. Then he took one he thought would work and said  it was hers to keep. Buff Offered to buy a bridle, saddle blanket and reins that Livvy could pay him for later. Grandma was overwhelmed and had to walk into the other room, to keep her tears to herself.

"I'm working at the event center, setting tables, napkins and helping Joe in the kitchen, " Livvy excitedly told Buff, "I will have the money for you."

As they walked into the computer room, the screen saver was alive with a slide show of memories. Buff and his beloved wife, Mary Lou, hunting with horses. Their life together from early-on to more recently. Friends, children, grandchildren all flashing on the screen for a moment or two, giving Buff such pleasure as he explained the ones that meant something even more special to him.

As we left, Livvy, eyes bright with joy, couldn't stop talking about Buff.

Arabian Mare - Lady and Olivia
We didn't pick up the saddle that next weekend, for Buff and Mary Lou went to Denver to watch their granddaughter ride in a horse show.

Buff and Grandma later the next week exchanged "Granddaughter" stories. As the stories came out, Buff said he really wanted to help Livvy get started. He remembered that riding bareback with a halter and lead as reins was how he learned to ride when he was a kid and so in love with horses. "An old cowboy gave me the gear I needed and explained everything to me. I want to do it for Livvy," Buff tells me.  "I also want to give her a book I enjoyed as a boy. She might enjoy it too." He is reliving his memories back then.

An act of kindness, as a Grandma, I will never forget ... neither will my granddaughter, Livvy.
Buff Rutherford, his haywagon, and my older granddaughter, Chelsea, who was only seven back then.