The cowboys huddled ‘round the fire, moved in close to the flame. The empty chair among them stood for more than just a name.

Each year the cowboy took his chair and joined in with the pack. Now his favorite chair’s left empty. He ain’t never comin’ back.

‘Cuz one misstep had sent him to our God’s eternity. A step from life to heaven was the cowboy’s guarantee.

So, the cowboys gave him tribute. Everyone had words to say. One cowboy said, “To me he’s bigger than a ton of hay.”

And then one quiet cowboy who would never speak at all, said, ”I guess he was my best of friend. To me he’s ten feet tall.

“He showed me how to saddle up. I didn’t know a thing. I’d never sat a horse. He put me proud, under his wing.”

He said, “I’m slow at learnin’. Takes me more than just a while. But my friend gave me his precious time and served me with a smile.

“His smile was so contagious, and it came deep from his heart. His presence always gave my soul a positive jump start.”

And then he said, “The empty chair our friend once occupied, still keeps his presence close to us, no matter that he died.”

Another cowboy piped right up for all of us to know. He said, “Our friend was genuine. Didn’t like a lot of show.

“He’d pitch in at the kitchen. Seemed to have the knack to cook. Then he’d stay and wash the dishes, never gave a second look.”

He said, “I watched him walk the camp and find two dirty plates. Then I heard him say, ”A litterbug won’t find the pearly gates.”

That got a laugh from all the men. They knew the cowboy well. One cowboy said, “He found my plate. Looks like I’m going to hell!”

And then the night grew quiet. They had no more left to share. ‘Cuz all the cowboys knew, one day, they’d leave an empty chair.

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