My name was James Oliver. I was a cowboy one of the more well known cowboys of my time. It all started when my mother passed away. My family and I lived on our farm. We had a few cows, a couple of horses, some chickens, stray cats here and there, and a dog. We were well off as a family during those days. It wasn’t until a plethora of storms had come into the grand ol’ state of Utah. Day after day there was a non stop of storms. And they sure were mean ones. The storms were so bad that it started to leak into our house. And boy, was my father mad about that. Eventually the storms had started to make mother sick. It started out as a cough and a runny nose. All of a sudden it turned into her losing her breath, getting dizzy, and having to sleep all day. I was scared back then. I didn’t want her to go away. And neither did my father. I could tell after long nights when he would come back inside from the barn that he had been crying. Even after I knew, he always told me that I should never cry, because then I wouldn’t be strong anymore.
It was a sad and cold November 19th, 1820 when my mother, Ann Ethol Oliver had passed away. At least she died in her sleep, where she was peaceful. Later that night I told my father I wanted to be strong, but I couldn’t hold the tears back anymore. I’ll always remember what he said, “Son, it’s alright to cry sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you’re not strong, only that you truly care. I love you, James. And I always will.”
It’s been 20 years since that, and I still remember like it was yesterday.
My father eventually sold all of the animals, except for two horses, I had wondered why back then. We were still in good conditions with our money, But I went along with it. Then, he sold of our possessions. We only kept the things we really wanted. I didn’t have much really, and neither did my father. After there was nothing left in our house, he sold that too. I had asked him why he was doing this, and he said,”We’re going to be cowboys.” That was another thing I’ve remembered all this time. He wasn’t joking about that either. He had taught me everything there was to survive out in the wild. And how to survive people. I was 10 and I’m pretty sure I knew how to shoot a gun better than most men. That’s what my father would tell me, and people I met later on in my life.
Father had died from a dual on June 10th, 1824. I laid with him until he passed. He always won the duals. At the time, I couldn’t understand why he lost. Before he died, he said,” Don’t you ever let anyone tell you that you’re worth nothing, because you’re worth so much. Remember that your mother and I both love you very much. Whatever it is you do for the rest of your life, make sure it has meaning to it. Promise me that. I love you, son.”
The men who worked with my father took myself and him to where my mother was buried. After the funeral, I ran away from them. I didn’t want to be by anyone. I felt like God was punishing me for something I had done. Although, I didn’t know what. I ran so far away that I had become lost. My horse, Cyrus, had eventually given up too. I didn’t know what day it was. We hadn’t had food or water in us for a few days. I thought this was the last of me, the final thing God was doing to punish me. I didn’t really even care at the time. My head had hit the ground hard, so everything was blurry. I looked for what I thought was going to be my last time, and I saw a big shadow figure. I asked, “Are you here to take me away, too?” After I said that, I was actually taken away. And little did I know it was going to be with a Native American tribe. With all of the stories I heard, I thought they were going to scalp me and beat me to death, but they didn’t. The only time they even laid a hand on me was to take care of me. I was 12 at the time, so it was pretty nice. I couldn’t tell you how scared I was. But I grew to like them, and they grew to like me. I lived with them until surprisingly, this very day.
“James, today is the day! Wake up!” Makya shouted. It was very early in the morning, which meant I was very tired.
“A few more minutes.”
“No, now!” He started to jump on me.
“Okay, okay! Get off me.” Makya started to laugh. “What are you laughing at, huh?”
“Don’t you have someone else to bother at this time of day?” I asked sarcastically.
“Nope. You’re leaving today, so I have to get as much done as possible.” We both started to laugh now.
“Okay, well let me get dressed and ready at least.”
“Okay.” He didn’t move.
“That means get out.”
“Fine.” I was 28 and was finally going to be going back into the world I once knew. I wasn’t so sure about this, but I wanted to know what It was like today. I got dressed a bit more slower today. For some odd reason, after many times of thinking about going back, I didn’t want to leave here. I had become so close to everyone. I knew this day was going to be hard. I walked out and stretched.
“Pahana,” Langundo said. Pahana was my Native American name. It meant lost white brother. And Langundo was the tribe leader. He was the one who felt like a father to me the most.
“Good morning, Langundo. How did you sleep?” I asked.
“Very well. And yourself?”
“I think it was the hardest night yet.” I looked to the ground.
“Everything will be alright, Pahana. You are starting a new adventure in your life. And that’s a good thing, too. You are still very young and need to experience what the world has to offer to you. Don’t you remember what what your father told you before he died?”
“Yes.” I still remembered hearing those words like it was yesterday.
“He and your mother are and will be very proud of you. And so will I.”
“Can I tell you something?”
“I felt like I’ve learned so much from here. A little more than I would liked at times as well.” Langundo chuckled. “But I feel like there is still so much more.”
“And that is why you are leaving here today.”
“I want to and I don’t want to.” What does that mean?”
“It means that you need to go. You are a learner, which is very good. Just know that you will do great things with your life.”
“No, thank you. You have shown me and many others what a good man is. We will miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too.” The only thing I could think to do was to hug him. It was one of the best hugs I had ever gotten.
“Don’t have him all for yourself, Langundo. We want to say goodbye too.” Elu said. She was Langundo’s wife. I smiled at her. “Oh, I wished you didn’t have to go.”
“Me either.” I didn’t need to hug her, she helped herself. “A little too tight.”
She laughed, “I’m sorry, Pahana. It’s just that I’m going to miss you so much.”
“I’m going to miss you too.”
“Come, Elu, he must start his journey before sun rise,” Langundo said. If he weren’t here I don’t think I would ever be able to leave this place, which I guess wouldn’t have been too bad.
I saddled up my new horse. Cyrus had died of old age. It was yet another sad time for me, but he was getting quite old. The strong horse I had now was named Dyami. It meant eagle. I named him that because he ran so fast, he could run with the eagles.
After getting everything ready, I turned around and everybody was there. There were some crying, but mostly all smiles.
“Don’t get lost,” Takoda said.” He was my best friend. I grew up with him here. He was my age, but he on other hand had already found the love of his life. Huh, maybe that’s what I would find out there.
“I won’t,” I said. We hugged each other. This was going to be so hard for both of us. We did practically everything together.
“Promise me you’ll come back to visit.”
“I promise, brother.” We finally released each other from the hug.
“We will all miss you dearly, Pahana,” Langundo said. “And we all hope you have a great journey. You will be in our prayers. Good bye, Pahana.”
“Ah-nah,” I said and then got up onto my horse. I slowly rode away from my family, but we would meet again. I just hoped they all knew that.