As I rode down thru’ the streets of Laredo,
As I rode into Laredo one day,
I see’d a poor cowboy wrapped up in a blanket
Laid out on a blanket and the colour of clay
“I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy,”
These words he did say as I boldly stepped by.
“Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story;
I was shot in the breast and I know I must die.”
“Let sixteen gamblers come handle my coffin
Let sixteen cowboys come sing me a song,
Take me to the graveyard and lay the sod o-er me,
For I’m a poor cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong.”
“It was once in the saddle I used to go dashing,
It was once in the saddle I used to go gay.
T’was first to drinking and then to card playing,
Got shot in the breast and I’m dying today.”
“Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin,
Get six pretty girls to carry my pall
Put bunches of roses all over my coffin
Put roses to deaden the clods as they fall.”
“Oh beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
And play the dead march as you carry me along.
Take me to the green valley and lay the sod o-er me,
For I’m a young cowboy and I know I’ve done wrong.”
I can’t say why my father had saved the words to this song, but a typed copy was amongst his paperwork which I recently cleared. It struck a chord with me, because it seemed to relate to my father who was a very principled man. It conveys that, as a counterpoint to his playful, teasing side – he enjoyed a drink with friends or a joke of a saucy nature – his code of honour was very strong.
I know he felt the imprint of any mis-steps he’d taken for the rest of his life – I think plenty of us do. He took some wrong turns with his career, he could be hot headed and outspoken when he should have kept his own counsel. Right to the end of his life he beat himself up over moments where he lost his temper, hadn’t given enough support to loved ones, or failed to guide them in the best direction.
I know my father had regrets but in my opinion it’s too harsh to judge yourself for shortfalls in how you nurture or advise others, because the result’s very quickly out of your hands. In the end a person can only take charge of their own life, the decisions they make and the paths they take.
No matter how true the concept: “what other people think of me is none of my business,” I think we are all haunted by our past mistakes.
This post is submitted to the writing meme #4Thoughts_Fiction hosted by the site IfSexMatters – if adult content doesn’t offend, why not visit to see what others have linked up : the prompt is Haunted.