Copper Janus and Cowboy John

“Why did you come help me Cowboy John?” Copper asked the big man squatted down in front of her.

“Well, sweetheart, your momma asked me to,” he said in a Texas drawled, deep voice, as he dabbed a cloth against her split lip, silently berating himself for letting a five-year-old get hurt under his direction.

“Yes, I know, but why did you come help me? ‘Cause I know you have two movies going right now, and your stunt teams need you there,” Copper said looking in the deep-blue eyes of the Texan for pity, which she hated; and she saw none, which she loved.

“Well, sweetheart, just like I said. Your momma asked me to. I would do anything for your momma,” Cowboy John said, as he continued to dab at Copper’s lip.

“Why?” Copper continued relentlessly.

“Because I love her, sweetheart, because I dearly love her,” the Texan said in a quiet voice as he looked into Copper’s green eyes.

Copper drew back away from the cloth in the big calloused hands, and her brows drew together in concern. “Cowboy John, does my daddy know you love my momma?” she asked quietly.

“Oh sweetheart, he sure does. I love her; my wife loves her; my Anna Elizabeth loves her; and even Burton Jean loves her. We all love your momma, sweetheart,” the Texan said with a smile as he began to dab at the scrape on the side of Copper’s face.

“Why? Why do you all love her so much?” Copper asked, not because she didn’t understand that they could love her mother – but why did they love her mother.

“Well, you are still the curious little thing ain’t you? Never letting somethin’ go once you get a hang on it…like a snapping turtle?” Cowboy John said with a smile.

“No, ‘cause I won’t let go even if it does thunder!” Copper said with a giggle. She looked in the big man’s eyes with brows raised in expectation of the explanation – never doubting that there wouldn’t be one.

“Well, sweetheart, a long time ago, before my little Ella and Emma were born, my first grand baby, Liza Mary, was born. Yes, I can tell you didn’t know about her. Well, let me tell you she was the sweetest, roly poly, round little dumpling baby you have ever seen,” Cowboy John’s eyes took on a far-away look, as he was silent for a moment remembering his first grandchild. “Little Liza Mary was the most joyous baby you ever saw. She belly laughed from the very start, because everything made her happy. She looked at things with her big blue eyes with amazing peace, and we were all filled all the way up with gladness for such a little round pumpkin. We loved her….so….much,” Cowboy John said as his big granite chin trembled in sadness. “Then she began to fade. She was so sick, for so long, and the doctors couldn’t do a thing. We all held her, loved her, and even at the end she smiled,” the Texan’s head dropped and a tear ran down his face. His big calloused hands wiped them away, and when he raised his head, he smiled into Copper’s eyes.

“We all didn’t realize your momma had quietly gathered up pictures of Little Liza Mary. You see we knew we would never see her as she walked, talked, played, or danced. We missed her somethin’ fierce, but we also missed what would come. She was such a special little thing, and we knew she would have been something extra wonderful as she grew into a little girl, but we missed that part. Well, your momma took those pictures, took what she knew about Anna Elizabeth’s generous spirit, happy heart, and the way she lived life with both hands full. Then she took Burton Jean’s love of music, and his ability to dream…and she began to sculpt. You know how talented your momma is, but we all really, really know what a gift your momma is. When she finished, we had Little Liza Mary. Only it was Little Liza Mary in the sweetest dress, just like her grandma would have made. She had an umbrella and was waving it around. Her arms were lifted and her sweet, sweet face was turned up to feel the rain falling on it. Her eyes were closed and the most amazing sweet smile just lit up her face…and…”

“Cowboy John! Your Little Liza Mary is the girl dancin’ in the rain? I love that little girl!” Copper said, with a hand on each side of Cowboy John’s face.

Cowboy John covered her hands with his and said quietly, “Yes, sweetheart, and all of us do too. Your momma gave us a glimpse of what Little Liza Mary would have been, and she gave my Anna Elizabeth just a little peace for her poor broken heart. So, when I say I love your momma….you can believe it.” The big Texas cowboy finished dabbing the cloth at the cut on Copper’s mouth. Then he looked at her with a mock stern expression and said, “So, no, more bein’ scared of fallin’ out of your chair? We practiced it enough didn’t we?”

“Yes, sir. And it’s not as bad as I thought,” said Copper with a smile and a wince as her mouth hurt again.

“No, it never is, sweetheart. I’m glad your momma called and told me you were having some fear about falling out of your chair. These things grow when left untended, just like weeds. Why, when I said we were gonna practice falling out of your chair, I thought you would just keel over! Your face turned ghost white, and I knew you were scared straight through, but the actual falling out isn’t as bad as the fearing it, is it?”

“No, Cowboy John, not near as bad. I am gonna practice, so I don’t get scared again,” Copper promised.

“You do that sweetheart, and…uh…can you tell your momma about the cut lip and the scrape on your forehead? Because as much as I love your momma, ain’t no stuntman dumb enough to rile up your momma about her baby girl! So, I will be moseying on out to the car and back to the movie site,” he said as he tried to sneak, as much as a huge cowboy in boots can sneak, toward the door. “Bye Sweetheart, if you need me, just call.”

Cowboy John tipped his hat at Copper, and then slipped out the front door. Copper rolled her chair over to the window and watched the large black limo carry the cowboy away.

“So, Copper dear, did you get over being afraid of falling out of your chair?” she heard her mother say from the art room, as she continued to work in clay toward another sculpture.

“Yes, momma…I mean mother. It doesn’t take but just a few seconds with Cowboy John, to make you start talking like a Texan! I am okay mother. I am okay,” and I am…thought Copper. I’m not frozen anymore thinking I might fall. I’m not afraid to go past the front porch. I’m not afraid to see who is living in that big house across the street!

Copper’s mother wiped a tear from her face, and a streak of clay replaced it. She silently thanked Cowboy John for his help. A professional, not to mention famous, stuntman knew how to fall without getting hurt, and Copper’s mom had hoped he could help…and he did.

In another place, in a park generously populated with large ancient trees, the wind blew. It gently moved the lush branches above, and the small girl figure seemed to move in time to the swaying limbs. Her face was lifted to the sky. An umbrella seemed to twirl with the moving dapple of sunlight streaming through the leaves, while her entire being spoke of music and happiness. One foot was lifted from the ground in dance, and one arm was raised with the palm of her hand toward the sun’s rays. Everyone passing by smiled at the sculpture, as it embodied a child’s unfettered and joyous spirit. The sculpture’s plaque read: “girl dancin’ in the rain”.

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