A childhood friend passed recently
his funeral was today.
Our families grew up with horses, riding trails, training and showing
but age and time as usual allowed us to grow apart.
God called home a cowboy, a gentle kind of soul,
for a higher calling in heaven.
Big Jon as most knew him
stuffed a lot of life in his short 52 years,
the youngest of five. Jon was younger than I and ornery than most,
aside from his brother Jay;
he was wiry and lanky as a kid with mischief in his eyes.
Between his older sister, he & I
it seemed we were always accident prone growing up with various busted bones.
It never kept us down at all back up on horses we’d go;
it’s hard to keep a cowboy down especially with places to go.
With our casts used as shields to protect us
we’d mount our trusty steads to ride.
I have many fond memories of childhood
clear up into our teens but
upon graduation and life we all went our separate trails.
Jon’s life kept him close to the horses along with his wife and his boys.
We’d run into each other a few times over the years
when walking around the fair.
A few times by CB radio
as he was hauling a load in his big rig and my husband & I
in ours as we were traveling from show to show.
A guy who’d give you a smile or an opinion it didn’t matter.
He loved to mentor the young ones and give them a stern gentle prod.
He was respected, revered and loved for the kind soul that shone from inside.
As young children growing up we all had our ponies
and the westerns we portrayed as we rode
our trusty steads, Sugarfoot, Thunder, Ribbon, & Cricket,
Ginger, Charlie, Susie and many more.
We traveled the trails through the wood
s we hunted bank robbers holed up in the cabin (an old falling down shed in the woods).
That shed doubled as our fort as we stalked Indians and wolves.
We played Cisco, Lone Ranger and Roy as we galloped the trails & the fields.
We sure ripped our legs, face & arms up
as the brambles reached out & gripped us,
all the while laughing and playing the dream.
We washed, brushed and practiced our showing
as we prepared our 4-h projects for fair,
proudly showing our ribbons of winning with a grin and a horse in tow.
We were rivals in school each proclaiming who’s best
but whoever sang out let’s ride the rivals went by the wayside.
We rode down the road on our steads
to the neighbor’s big apple orchard.
As our ponies would dip their heads down to the ground for an apple
we teetered for balance when we’d slip down their neck
trying so hard to regain our seat.
As we graduated from ponies to horses
it made it easier to snatch that forbidden apple to eat on the way.
Many times Jon being the youngest he rode double with one of us.
Our whole summers were spent on horseback
and after school through the fall & winter.
Our parents spent their days off and vacation
trailering us to horse shows & fairs.
As I am sure they had other dreams.
We spent long hours cleaning and oiling our leathers, saddles and bridles
and washing and brushing our horses.
We studied our 4-H workbooks
and slept over at each other’s houses.
We’d walk the abandoned railroad spur
to the babysitter up the road,
where we’d resume some western themed plight.
Cheryl was always happy to see us
and she and her brother would join in our play.
We never imagined our destiny as children you think your forever,
as adults you feel you have time.
You’d think being older your time would come first
you never imagined the youngest would blaze that trail first to heaven.
Jon was witty and opinionated
and I’m sure God needed advice,
maybe not quite the way he would like.
I know God is smiling right now for he knows Jon’s the guardian angel
of his son’s Hayden and little Jon.
Jon turned into quite a horseman
he won ribbons & medals and such
with his stallion he rode in many contests.
Big Jon & his wife mentored young children
and showed them the way that was best.
He was tough when he needed but a gentle cream puff
with a heart pure as gold.
He was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago
and fought that big battle with gust.
With surgeries and trials and ups and downs
he fought till the very end
but we all know cancer doesn’t play fair.
Jon’s funeral and celebration of life was today.
He planned his day to the “T”.
He shared heartfelt messages to his family and friends
with a chuckle and grin to the end.
His funeral was befitting a cowboy,
his rider less horse pranced proud.
With his boots in the stirrups
we all stood with pride to have known him
that he had touched us so deep in our soul.
Big Jon left quite a legacy,
a wife, two fine sons, family and friends.
God has seen that he has joined his and my father
and I’m sure they‘re telling some tales
as they all ride the happy trails.
December 14, 1962 – January 17, 2015
by Cathy Rollison-Krist
Below is a poem “Four Little Words” by Jay Snider a Cowboy poet that I feel sums up Big Jon, my dad and Jon’s dad to a tee. Mr Snider has graciously given me permission to post his wonderful poem. Thank you Jay for your nice little note.
Four Little Words- By Jay Snider
Four little words have stuck in my mind
From the time I was just a small child
“There’s a good feller” is what he would say
When he talked of the men he admired
I remember those men he talked about
Sure ‘nuff cowboys, tough, but kind
They said what they meant and meant what they said
These men are getting’ harder to find
“There’s a good feller,” meant he was true to his word
That’s all you expect of a man
You knew for sure he was proud to meet you
By the genuine shake of his hand
“There’s a good feller,” meant you could depend
On this man no matter the task
Never got too tough, too cold, or too late
For his help, all you need do is ask
“There’s a good feller,” meant he had a light hand
Be it with horses or cattle or crew
He spent most of his life learning this cowboy trade
And he’d be honored to teach it to you
“There’ a good feller” meant don’t ask him to do
What ain’t on a true and honest track
He knows it’s easier to keep a good reputation
Than it is to try to build one back
“There’s a good feller,” meant he’s a fair minded man
He helped write cowboyin’s unwritten laws
He won’t ask you to do what he wouldn’t do
Yet knows, at times, the short end you’ll draw
“There’s a good feller,” meant, when he’s down on his luck
He can still hold his head way up high
‘Cause he did his best and gave it his all
He knows with faith and God’s help he’ll get by
“There’s a good feller”, just four little words
And their meaning won’t run all that deep
But when Dad would use ‘em to describe certain men
You knew they were at the top of the heap
“There’s a good feller”, just four little words
But they’ve always been favorites of mine
If after my trails end, my name’s brought up
“There’s a good feller” would suit me just fine
© Jay Snider, All rights reserved
Jay Snider gives permission for the use of this poem for a personal ceremony. You can email Jay.
Please give the author credit when reciting or printing this poem