The Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering” is an annual event, held every October, in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ve attended this event more times than I can remember. The western heritage is my heritage, and a huge part of who I am. I’ve spent all my life around horses, cattle, cowboys, and musicians, in one way or another, though I didn’t actually grow up on a ranch.
The music that developed out of this heritage, the cowboy songs, and western swing, are so much a part of me. There is just something in the stories of those songs that always seem to touch my soul. Even as a little girl, I was always mesmerized by twin fiddles and a steel guitar. I guess, when I think about it, it shouldn’t surprise me that, with the loss of my sight, I would eventually find myself sitting behind a pedal steel guitar more often than I find myself sitting on the back of a horse these days.
The poetry takes me back to simpler times, reminds me that there is a difference between right and wrong, and the importance of honesty, responsibility, and standing up for the truth. Poems like “The Bay”, written by Red Steagall, is one, in which, I can deeply relate, not only because of my involvement with horses, but because of who I am. A lesson in how differently we can, sometimes, look at life, it depicts two cowboys, one young and full of himself, the other older and wiser, both looking at the same horse. One sees an old, ugly, worthless nag, while the other sees a loyal, dependable, and trustworthy, beautiful and valuable, friend. There are so many others detailing the history of the old west, and the simple truths in life easily depicted in the cowboy way of life. I wish I could post them for you, but copyright laws prevent it.
My husband, and I, have spent the past several weekends, though it seems like forever, tearing down, and replacing old fence on our little homestead. I’ll sleep better now, knowing that our goats, and the calves, due to be born the end of this month, will be safe from the coyotes, and neighbor’s dogs. It’s a good feeling, knowing something I had a hand in building, is worthwhile, and has purpose. I take pride in my home, my animals, all the things I grow, and do. It is who I am, and it is a good way to be.
What does this have to do with adoption; a lot more than you know. As an adoptee, who has reunited, I’ve been asked on more than one occasion, what I think I would be like if I had been raised by D, and E. It’s an interesting question, and one I’ve pondered at different times, but why doesn’t anyone ever ask me what I think I would be like had I been born to J, and W? That too, is an interesting question, and one I have pondered as well. What a question to ask the adoptee stuck between two sets of parents, that are, both, so important to an adoptee? What a position to be in, and what a denial of who we actually are if we answer it?
You see, I think it’s kind of funny, when people in the world of adoption, want to argue the nature vs. nurture theory. Everyone wants to take credit for the good behavior of adoptees, and blame the other side for the bad. I get a bit of a kick out of it. Why? Because you won’t find any of my four parents, shoveling horse manure, getting splattered, from head to toe, by, uhm, as the cowboys, I know, like to refer to it, elements of the environment, when it’s time to work the cattle, much less, feeling at home on the back of a horse, and you never will. There are many ways I am like D and E, and many ways I am like J and W. I can’t deny that they have all had an effect on my life, and who I have become. However, there are just as many ways I am different from all of them. If you were to ask me which set of parents I think I am most like, I would have to say I don’t know. When I think about who I am today, at age 46, I think I am, just simply, most like me.
As The Adopted One noted in her last post, so many times, we, the adoptees, and, who we are just as ourselves, will get dismissed by those in the adoption world, because it satisfies their own need to take credit for our successes and deny the blame for our failures. Maybe it is a natural response for a parent to want to take credit for their children’s accomplishments. I can understand that. However, too many times, in the world of adoption, I hear parents from both sides, taking credit for the accomplishments of the adoptee, and pointing a finger at the other side for the adoptees failures. Our parents, all of them, may play their own role in who we are, who we become, however, I don’t believe that gives them the right to take credit for us. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Our accomplishments, and our failures, are ours, and though our parents have a role in our lives, please don’t dismiss who we are as individuals by dismissing our role in our own lives.
As an adoptee, it makes me a bit angry when I hear one set of our parents, being given credit for our accomplishments, or pointed at as to blame for our failures, especially when the adoptee in question is an adult. As I pondered the questions of who would I be had I been born too J, and W, or who would I be had I been raised by D and E, I have come up with an answer for anyone who would ask such an impossible question. It’s really very simple. I think I’d just be me, and with that settled, back to the original subject.
In celebration of our individuality as adoptees, the completion of mine, and my husbands, hard work on the fence (I’m sooo glad that’s over.), I thought I would share, with you, a few links for your enjoyment.
Red Steagall reciting his most famous poem, and one of my favorites: The Fence That Me and Shorty Built
Don Edwards, a famous cowboy singer, performing my most favorite cowboy song: Little Joe the Wrangler
Red Steagall doing what he does best, entertaining the crowd with my favorite part of his performances. Always the same, but it never, never gets old: The Bear