P. O. Box 575  • Sealy, Texas •  979-877-4822  •  alan@cowboysportsnews.com

Big Al's View Of The World

COWBOY SPORTS NEWS MAGAZINE DECEMBER 2018


The first time I can remember meeting him he was wearing those sneakers that had the roller wheels in the heel. We were eating at a restaurant and he was just wheeling his way around the place at will. Not like one of those annoying yuppie kids that you want to slap, but more like a country kid that had a new toy. He was doing circles around our table telling our son how much fun he was going to have in the school we were about to register him into. I’m pretty sure he had a flat top haircut. If it wasn’t a flat top it was pretty close.

Fast forward four or five months and our son was coming home each day with tales of the escapades he had witnessed. Nothing bad, just country kids being country kids. After all they weren’t even in junior high yet. Two years later our son was playing football in the 6th grade. Considering his football career consisted of playing catch in the backyard, our son was never going to be the star on the team. His initial exposure to the game was made a little better with a familiar face. A face that was also a rodeo kid. They kind of had that bond. I thought at the time that maybe he was looking after my son who was two grades under him. I think he knew that our son was trying and try was something that every rodeo person respects.

He was a raging bull on the field. He would hit an opposing player so hard trying to tackle him that he would just bounce off half the time. The coaches had to tell him to not hit so hard. I saw him run the ball with three or four of the other team’s players dragging along behind him. It was almost comical sometimes how many people it took to tackle him. Being that the school was so small they played 6 man football so everyone played every play. Offense or defense, he was on the field.

Over the years the tales never slowed. We all knew he wasn’t an angel. He never claimed to be. What he was, was a friend. If he knew you, he KNEW you. He had your back. Their school was small by every standard. Age or grade meant nothing to most of the kids. Everyone knew everyone. His legend grew each year. He wasn’t a big fish in a little pond. He was just another fish that everyone wanted to be like. The fact that his grandma ran the school didn’t help things. He wasn’t going to hide from anything around there. The tales never slowed.

High school rodeo was made a little easier with his familiar face at the rodeos. It helped to have someone you saw daily when you showed up at the rodeo.

School seemed a little boring after his graduation. The older kids told the new kids about his escapades from years past.

I didn’t get to see him the last few years as much as I was used to. He was away at college and we were still in high school. I saw him occasionally at a CPRA rodeo if we were up the same night. For some reason I wasn’t doing anything back in September when my son had his first college rodeo of the year so I tagged along for the ride. I was sitting behind the bucking chutes watching the rodeo when he came riding up looking for powder for his soaking wet saddle. I hadn’t seen him since the 4th of July and we talked for almost 20 minutes. College, dozers, what he was going to do when he graduated. The talk was all over the place.

The one thing I’ll always remember about him was his sincerity when he talked to you. He was unlike almost any other person I knew so young. When he talked to you, he was in a conversation with you. He wasn’t looking over your shoulder at what was going on elsewhere, he was talking to you. He had always been that way from that night at the table with his roller heeled sneakers. You can tell when a person doesn’t want to be in a conversation with you. I never saw that from him. He was there with you in the moment.

A few weeks later my wife tagged along with our son to another college rodeo. She was sitting in the bleachers by herself when he strolled up and started talking to her. She hadn’t seen him in a very long time. She said he stayed for half an hour introducing her to other people he was with while talking to her about just about everything. That’s how he was. He KNEW you!

The last time I saw him was the McNeese rodeo. I was sitting on the back of the bucking chutes watching the slack. I saw him win his last ever rodeo. He rode by me and flashed that smile on his way out of the arena. We said something back and forth to each other and he rode off. As I was walking to the truck I saw him riding his horse to the trailer. One week later I had seven hours to see that scene on my drive home from West Texas.

I have had many friends that left us way too early. Some expected and some very much by surprise. It is never easy. Tragedy makes it even harder.

My wife was having a hard time with it on the following day. We had all just driven that seven hours back from Dryden with heavy hearts in silence. A sleepless night had not made things better. I came home that evening and could tell she had had a hard afternoon. We hugged and she showed me the text our son had sent her earlier.

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
YOU need to be at peace because it is in the hands of the lord. The Bible and the words inside are the only medication for a good nights sleep!

We hugged again and I quickly went into the next room. There was no way I was going to be able to speak the words so I texted him. I told him obviously he was a better person than any of us could have hoped for and that I loved him.

The sign says “live, laugh, love.” We have a sign in our bedroom someone gave us that says “always kiss me goodnight.” I’m not sure who it is directed at, but I try every night.

In memory of Will Byler and his beautiful bride Bailey. They left us on the most beautiful night of their lives surrounded by family and friends.

Missing future conversation,

Big Al

 


December 2018 Cowboy Sports News Magazine

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