GABRIEL "GABE" MARTINEZ
In August, 2003, Rhonda Martinez of San Diego wrote to us. She would appreciate hearing from those who have been touched by her story. You can email her:
To Whom It May Concern:
I recently found the following poem, written by my son Gabriel, among some of his belongings. It was written in pencil, on notebook paper that is permanently creased from being folded for so long, and feels more like soft cloth than paper, perhaps from being handled so often. Finding this brought back a flood of memories.
During his teenage years, Gabriel became enamored of all things country and western (to no one's surprise, it started with a country girl). Of course he had to look the part, tight Wrangler jeans, shirts (custom made by his Aunt Doris), a black hat, a silver buckle, and a BIG truck to complete the look. No stone was left unturned. There was the music, line dancing, an after school job on a ranch, bull riding, rodeo clowning and his first serious obsession, Wild Horse Racing. We affectionately refer to those years as his "Cowboy Phase."
I'm not sure when he wrote this poem, whether it was several years ago during the "Phase" itself, or more recently as he matured into an extraordinary man. You see, it was not dated and I can't ask him. Gabriel, an only child, died unexpectedly on February 16th of this year, he was one month shy of his 26th birthday.
I have learned so much about my son, much of it from others who knew him. But I have also learned from him. On February 2nd, he had decided to begin writing a book about his life. The first four pages, sadly, the only pages of his book, spoke volumes about what he valued. When I came across his poem after five months, it confirmed for me what I always knew to be true about him. That he really loved, without reservation, who, and what he loved. Difficult and demanding work, the possibility of pain and injury, and even the probability of failure, did not hinder his resolve. Although he was a man of his word, Gabriel's determination to see something through was not because of commitments he made to others, it was because of the promises he made to God and himself.
On the surface, his poem is about a cowboy, any cowboy, but I know different. It is at once, a simple illustration of a cowboy's heart and a complex metaphor for my son's life. He worked hard, he played hard, he loved intensely, and he lived fearlessly. To quote the most amazing human being I have ever had the blessing of knowing, "Most people can't say they've lived that much."
It would make me very happy, as well as give me a great sense of pride, to see my son's poem published as a tribute to him. I truly feel that it can be an inspiration, a gift, to others as it was to me. I tried, as much as possible, to present it in the style that it was written. The signature is obviously not his, but the original was signed. The initials WHR stand for Wild Horse Racing...I have attached a photograph of Gabriel at seventeen years old...you will understand its significance. In one line of his poem he says "He tips his hat to thank God..." When the photo was taken he was tipping his hat to the camera, but when I look at it these days, I like to think of it as a goodbye for now, but as a hello someday soon.
Rhonda would appreciate hearing from those who have been touched by her story. You can email her.
God Bless the Cowboy
Fresh dirt on his knees as he kneels for the Anthem
His horse slamming against the chutes
Saddle in his hands, spurs on his boots
God bless the cowboy, he needs it
The saddle is cold and the horse is mad
He tips his hat to thank God for what is to be had
"Just give me 8 and I'll make it right"
He lives for this crowd on this Saturday night
Countless times he's almost died
Simply for the rush of that 8 second ride.
Lord, give me the courage as this broncs called outside
God bless the cowboy, God knows he's tried
He holds tight with a leather fist
As his horse comes out and it begins to buck good and twist
8 seconds has once again been overcome
He jumps from the beast
A 91 is scored as he begins to chuckle
He now knows he's won that buckle
The lonely cowboy has been given back his self esteem
He loves the rodeo and he's living his dream
The cowboy does exactly what he loves
Most people can't say they've lived that much
So when you see the cowboy, you know he's tried
God bless the cowboy, he's kept his pride.
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.
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