Cancer and Ode to a Cowboy

Rooster - quarter horse - champagne - team roping

Some of you may have noticed a Facebook status I posted in late July about cancer and Alzheimer’s needing to leave my family the hell alone. Alzheimer’s has and continues to take a toll on the Frobose, Buzzard and Baker branches of my family and I don’t know many people out there that cancer hasn’t touched in some way.

Without delving into too much detail, because I am honestly not fond of sharing intimate minutia of my personal life with the interwebs [or anyone for that matter], my cousin Marty Buzzard quietly lost his long battle with cancer on July 31. I felt, and still feel, like someone jacked me in the aorta with a ton of bricks.

Marty, rest his blessed soul, was a quiet cowboy, however the few words he did offer were heavy with meaning, ultimately consistent with the rest of the Buzzard men. He loved his family and roping, playing basketball and causing a little bit of mischief along the way- an unexpected quality thanks in large part to his calm and reserved demeanor.

A kind and adept horseman, Marty always rode well-broke horses and valued behavior and skill over flash or style. Marty broke colts and rode outside horses for years with unmatched finesse, skill and patience, training his own horses and selling them after he made them into equines of worth. Rare in a multitude of fashions, he was a left-handed heeler and I never tired of watching him deliver a loop. As with all roping, heeling is an art and left-handed heeling is art in motion.

Marty had a horse named Rooster, a champagne amber gelding, who is by our stud Take Care O’ Neall [you’ll drool]. I liken Rooster and Marty to Doc and I and when Marty was in the later stages of his disease, my father took care of Rooster for long stretches of time so that the horse would remain in capable hands and not be sold during the mires of terminal illness.

You can imagine the shock I felt when I received a phone call from Podge a few weeks ago informing me that I had been given the ultimate gift; Rooster’s torch had been handed off to me. The gamut of emotions I’ve experienced during the past few weeks has been jarring – I’m reeling from the shock of receiving such a special gift, humbled by the trust my cousin, father and grandfather have put in me to take care of Rooster and excitement at owning a son of our stud. Of course, he’s not really mine, I’m just watching over him until he meets up with Marty again. However, until that fateful day arrives, I’m going to cherish the runs I’ll make and the calves I’ll capture on the gorgeous, well-bred, inestimable gelding.

Rooster - quarter horse - champagne - team roping
Rooster the rodeo horse with Rooster the rodeo dog making a cameo

I’m certain I’ve never felt more of a higher calling to give an animal supreme care than this very instance and I know that Marty will never be far away.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~


6 responses to “Cancer and Ode to a Cowboy”

  1. Such a sad but beautiful post. What a very precious gift you have received.

  2. Beautiful horse…great pic. So sorry for your loss.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    The a great story, Brandi. I hope Rooster, the horse, and Rooster, the canine, live long lives together. -GVHibbard

  4. Thank you CDH, Leslie and Gordon – hope I can live up to the trust.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Marty was a great guy and you have paid a excellent tribute to him with your words. I had the pleasure of knowing him through Les & your Dad in Greeley and then worked with him a few years at KDOT in G-town. I loved it when he came into the office to visit and knew he would much rather be out in the pasture with his horses and cattle than working for the state. He would always brag on his nieces and nephews. He knew what he was doing in trusting you to care for his horse. Blessings to you and your family!

  6. Thank you, Sue. I appreciate you sharing your memory of Marty.