As a young woman my mother looked like Julia Roberts in a cowgirl costume, her smile as big as the Montana sky. She was born on a ranch in the Gallatin Gateway, about 50 miles from Yellowstone National Park, which wasn’t much more distant than a trip to the hardware store in that part of the world. Her father offered her a penny for every gopher she shot – gopher holes are deadly to horses and cattle – and so she became a crack shot early in her life, to go along with her acrobatic riding skills. The middle child in a three-daughter ranching family, she mastered most of the so-called masculine arts well before she graduated from high school, and could outride, out rope, and outshoot most men in their prime.
But then the war came and the world needed nurses and so she became one. Blood and broken bones don’t scare someone experienced in feeding and calving a herd of cattle. After the war, she married one of her high-school sweethearts, had a couple of kids, and as soon as those kids could find their own way home after school, she went back to work, later to become the head of orthopedic nursing for a major hospital.
She always regretted not studying liberal arts and so she went back to college the same year I enrolled. We took some of the same classes together. On receiving a slightly lower grade than my mother in an English literature course, I went to the professor and asked why. “Because your mother is just a little bit smarter than you are,” the professor answered.
The professor was right.
-Robert Eversz, Author of Shooting Elvis (and many more fabulous books), Teacher, and Co-Founder of The Prague Summer Program for Writers