Today we laid my grandfather to rest. I am grateful I was with him when he passed, and still more grateful for my great-uncle John, who led the service with his guitar and played a few cowboy songs and a song my grandfather himself wrote (“Maybe tomorrow I’ll care”). I wanted to post the poem John recited that I adored, and the original version of a Marty Robbins song he played. Grandpa Cliff was interred at Rose Hills, where his daughter Cathy (1962-1995) rests, his parents rest, and his little brother Gary who died in a car accident when he was 20. There’s a view of all of Southern California from where he now resides that will take your breath away, and I’m glad it’s his now.
Cowboy Reincarnation poem
Cowboy Reincarnation by Wallace McRae
“What does Reincarnation mean?”
A cowpoke asked his friend.
His pal replied, “It happens when
Yer life has reached its end.
They comb yer hair, and warsh yer neck,
And clean yer fingernails,
And lay you in a padded box
Away from life’s travails.”
“The box and you goes in a hole,
That’s been dug into the ground.
Reincarnation starts in when
Yore planted ‘neath a mound.
Them clods melt down, just like yer box,
And you who is inside.
And then yore just beginnin’ on
Yer transformation ride.”
“In a while, the grass’ll grow
Upon yer rendered mound.
Till some day on yer moldered grave
A lonely flower is found.
And say a hoss should wander by
And graze upon this flower
That once wuz you, but now’s become
Yer vegetative bower.”
“The posy that the hoss done ate
Up, with his other feed,
Makes bone, and fat, and muscle
Essential to the steed,
But some is left that he can’t use
And so it passes through,
And finally lays upon the ground
This thing, that once wuz you.”
“Then say, by chance, I wanders by
And sees this upon the ground,
And I ponders, and I wonders at,
This object that I found.
I thinks of reincarnation,
Of life and death, and such,
And come away concludin’: ‘Slim,
You ain’t changed, all that much
from Cowboy Curmudgeon (1992)