Sitting at the cemetery on Memorial Day in May of 2013 and listening to the pastor read a verse from John, Chapter 8 verse 32. John 8:32, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” A lump welled up in my throat, my chest filled with pain, I choked back the tears. I did not want anyone to see me cry. I turned my face away from the people and looked out across a pasture at the far end of the cemetery. I’ve known that verse of wisdom for many, many years. In the late 1990’s, our pastor needed to leave to go home to North Carolina to be with a parent that was failing in health. The pastor (a woman) was so dedicated to her calling to her congregation that she felt she could not go home to be at her mother’s side. I was on the church council at the time and I offered to put together a service and take care of the Memorial Day event. The council agreed and we blessed our pastor’s desire to go home to see her mother and father.
Memorial Day at our cemetery, at the time, was a time of immense reverence and gratefulness to those young boys and girls – men and women – who left their homes and families to prepare themselves to fight for freedom on foreign soils. Our community sent many, some returned home alive, some returned home to be placed in the cemetery and some never made it back to our American soil. Memorial Day cemetery services were troubling to those who survived and made it home. So to provide a service on that day was frightening for me, humbling.
I worked and worked on that service. The service went off without a hitch and I was relieved. Since then, the same Bible references I used in my message deliverance have been used over and over again for our Memorial Day services. I used John 8:32 that day. In all honesty, I felt then and still feel to this day that the verse bears significance to every aspect of life. “If you speak the truth, then you do not have to worry or wonder about what you told or said to someone. The truth stands on its own. It never changes. It may hurt to face it, but the truth IS the truth.”
At the time I gave that sermon message in the late 1990’s I was going through a divorce. I held on to the verse through those times and I give the verse credit for pulling me through the mud, the blood and the tears of what that divorce brought to me. Divorces are like a death. They are the termination of a life. A life you pledged to give to someone else through all kinds of times – good and bad, happy or sad, sick or well. And that divorce came fresh on the heels of the sudden death of my father. The pinging in my head was, “the truth will set you free, the truth will set you free, the truth will set you free.” The death of my dad, the distress of a divorce, the punishing impact of the abuse from my husband. All I had to hold onto was, “the truth and how the truth would set me free.” I held on despite the punishment.
Though a strong person, I was beaten to a pulp by holding onto the notion of “the truth”. I made a professional career transition to return home to take care of my mother, take care of my father’s farm which he quietly called, “his ranch”. My mom and I regrouped over a number of years. We took my dad’s “ranch dream” and let it grow, change and live on. My dad died on Labor Day weekend of 1996 and his ranch is still here. It has been a retained ownership cow-calf operation since he left 2522 State Rt. U. It is no small feat to be a retained ownership cow-calf operation.
A teeny tiny percentage of cattle producers have forged into the territory to say they are a “retained ownership outfit”. We have been through some tough drought cycles, historic snows, historic heat, historic rains, historic cold. And all the while, have had the ability to be north of breakeven on our cattle operation. Some years a slim above breakeven, but more is better than less when it comes to profits. Inputs have raged out of control. Cattle prices, to some, have raged out of control. But I will say this, “It all appears to be relative.” Relative because I recall the days of being able to fart around on the weekends with friends for a couple of dollars and have change left by Sunday. Things change, yet some things should never change. Like, “the truth”.
Since those late 1990’s I have taken two adventures in life that turned out to be unfortunate errors of choices I made. One constant has helped me get through those times – John 8:32, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Here are those two adventures: (1) on January 08, 2008 I purchased the business of Trayers’ Cowdogs and (2) I married again. Both of these adventures, at the hands of two men, turned out in the end to be adventures at the hands of two very dishonest people. The Trayers’ Cowdog retirement sale turned out to “not” be a retirement from the cowdog business. It was a mere relocation from one state to another of the former owners. Unfortunate event #2 – the marriage – was a means for a man to finance the growth and development of his farm property.
To allow the truth to help me through these two adventures I needed or used legal representation. The cowdog business adventure taught me that trying to help people unravel bad dog deals was not a future I wanted and I certainly did not anticipate it was going to be a part of the business sale. I recall clearly the conversation when the former owner told me in a chuckle, “It’s your business now, you take care of it.” I never anticipated the former cowdog business owner would be calling me a dike. I never anticipated the public pronouncements from him that I never paid one red cent for the business. I never anticipated the conversations that I just drove to Kansas, loaded up stuff in the middle of the night and drove off to Missouri like a thief in the dark.
I vividly recall a conversation which a relative of the former cowdog business owner engaged me in while at the personal property sale of the former cowdog business owners’ surplus personal property. A person introduced themselves to me and asked, “How did you meet C______? Over the internet?” I looked at the person and two other people standing there and replied smiling in disbelief, “Over the internet? No, I came here with a friend in 2002 and ended up buying a pup, then came back to get the pup when it was old enough to be weaned.” They proceeded to tell me a story that I wish I had never, ever heard about internet dating.
Yes, I was shocked. But, by then, I had secured a loan for over $50,000 to buy the cowdog business stuff and another significant sum to build some secure facilities to house 16 new dogs and the 12 I already had. As I drove out of the drive on the last of a few trips that I made to Kansas to get things, the former cowdog business owner trotted up to the driver side window, point his finger for me to roll the window down and he said, “Be careful because you will have dog fights and you need to learn how to break them up without getting bit.”
It took 3 very diligent and vigilant years, to try to rid those dogs of lots of chronic physical and mental illnesses or injuries and various genetic disorders that were/are highly heritable. Needless to say, his parting words to me of dog fights were an understatement. At the end of all the horrible years of trying to fix dogs, fix unhappy customers with their purchases before my business ownership time, I ended up with a lot of experience in “how to fix sick dogs” and “how to fix unhappy people”.
I had to learn to take care of business and that meant making some seriously tough choices of process of elimination. I cared for some very sick dogs that could have lived longer lives if someone had paid attention to the details of what was ailing some of the dogs. I went above and beyond to care for two dogs that had significant and special meaning to me and their former owner – Lil and Sage. Lil was my cowdog Bert’s mother. Bert was the pup which I got in the summer of 2002. Sage was my cowdog Hawk’s mother.
When I brought Lil home, I found she had a uterine infection. I inquired and was told her last litter was about a year and a half beforehand and that she only had one very large pup which did not make it. I did emergency surgery on Lil to save her life, fed her with a 12cc syringe each hour, every day for several weeks. She did well until one day in May of 2008 out in the yard she had difficulty breathing, I gave her mouth to mouth resuscitation and she could not recover to breathe on her own. I buried her in her favorite place where she laid and watched the cattle while I cleaned dog pens. I emailed the former owner and gave him the bad news. It was hard for me. It was hard for him too, I think.
Sage. When I brought Sage home, she was deaf, nearing blindness and had a tumor in her brain. She carried her head at a tilt to the side and puttered around with her arthritis filled joints. She had a chronic mouth infection/disease, a ruptured umbilical cord from birth that had walled off and formed a tumor in her abdominal lining. I healed her up as good as could be and don’t you know, she like Lil, had a heat cycle. Sage snuck off with Oscar one day when she was past her 30 days of lockdown. She bore a son and I named him Shorty. He was a little blue fuzz ball. Cowdog Jewell (Bert’s sister) handled the daily nursing duties. At night, Sage cuddled him, cleaned him, tucked him under her front legs next to her chest and cared for him. Sage was a genuine mother to the core. She loved Shorty…aka Short Dog. She and Shorty, Jewell and her 8 pups, and I took daily adventures together. We had a blast raising Shorty.
Shorty, the Short Dog, is the spittin’ image of Sage. Tough, a keen eye for cattle, a bite that is strong, firm and like no other, smart, extremely loveable and endearing. Shorty’s only flaw is he bears one hind foot which only has one toe. Sage had scooted the whelping box around and had caught Shorty’s foot under the edge on the night that Shorty was 2 days old. I found his wounded foot and simply had to pinch the dead toes off. Sage kept his foot clean and he healed like a champ. He moves with a slight offness to his gait but you would too if you only had one toe as your foot. And, just to explain further, Shorty is anything but short. He is a large, stout, tall, long-bodied and rugged cowdog.
I decided I would try to salvage some of the cowdog business by setting up a structured breeding program with the few dogs that had the least amount of undesirable traits. The question was, “Is there anything to salvage out of all these dogs?” I DNA tested the dogs for genetic relationships. I had enough supposed brothers, sisters, and parents to establish if the brothers, sisters and parents were truly related. If they were related, did their pedigree information match exactly? If the DNA stated they were not related yet their papers said they were siblings, then I knew I had some genetic unraveling to do. The research began. The DNA proved I had brothers and sisters that were not brothers and sisters. The DNA became more reliable than the conversations and papers. And, the matings in my second and third generations show the benefits of the planned matings.
The lawsuit resulted in affirming the terms of the sale of the business, the payments for the business were completed early and finality was granted to put an end to the misguided hoax. In the end, the November 14, 2008 threats made to me of, “I’ve got three lawyers who are going to help me ruin you in the cattle and dog business,” proved to be just one of 1,000’s of vile, foul, derogatory filthy comments hurdled my way over the years by the former owner of the cowdog business. As the time passed, John 8:32 helped me through the cowdog business debacle, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I can look back and reminisce about the travelers that came here to get stuff, the phone calls, the fingers in pockets discussions at ranch rodeos and festivals and be glad that I stayed the course of the truth. I did not allow the years of bullying to drag me into the pit of the “drama lifestyle”. Some people simply thrive on drama and are addicted to having drama lead their lives.
On December 27, 2013, the second adventure – my marriage – drew closer to closure. On December 30, 2013, I received the judgment from my last and final divorce. Through John 8:32, I will survive this adventure too, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Freedom. Freedom from two adventures that I entered into with friends. Both friendships were with people who thrive and survive on drama and deliverance of pain to others. If they do not get things to work as they “planned” then they will work to destroy you. Yet, I know this, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” has served to help me through times of unfortunate situations. I will remain true to my promise to my father, “to let his ranch live on as best I can.” It’s been an adventure Dad. I apologize to you for my errors and wastes but I do not regret living by your advice and the words of John 8:32, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
So here is my long overdue penning of, “Death of Friendships”. I could go on with all the shocking details, but there is no point. If one wants to know more of the legal details of the cowdog business rap sheet, one can access the legal renderings with the public information on the internet in the County of Cole, Missouri. Those days were long, tedious and unfortunate. But sometimes you just do not expect “friends” to lean on you for the sole purpose of benefiting themselves, their alter egos and deceitful ways. Some friendships die. For me, friendships die when there is a failure to adhere to the truth and live by the truth. The truth will never let you down. It might hurt to face it – the truth – but it is better to stay the course and stay true to the truth. Needless to say, I am a person that does not believe in, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”
Chapters closed? Yes, shutting the doors on all the lies of these two adventures. Mere memories. Friendships dead and gone. And yes, I do know the truth and the truth has set me free – twice. ~Movin’ On