Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
- Community Blog
- From 4220 feet:
Opening a Vein Here...
My first writing assignment at SMU was to write my own obituary. It freaked me out but when the professor read my paper in front of the class, I was floored. I got an A+ which was rare at Southern Methodist University. I hadn't done anything and that's what I said in my paper. The professor said I spoke with honesty and did not claim my family's history as my legacy as many had. His words are etched in my heart forever. Tuition paid. Education granted. That was all I needed to succeed, regardless of whether I used that knowledge. Until now...
Finally, I am ready to tell the truth. Today, my obituary wouldn't read much more than then. I have lived longer, not better. So many lost days. Trying to be alive. Trying to married. Trying just to be.
It hasn't worked out professionally for me. I've made alot of money but little success. The two don't always go hand-in-hand.
The night I graduated from high school in a ceremony held at the new Texas Stadium in Irving, my dad came into my room afterward and said, "I feel like I should give you some advice so I will tell you that whatever you do, don't do drugs." And I never did. And I never will.
But he forgot to mention alcohol. Thanks to him and my stepmother Susan, who was harsh and unloving but never turned me away, I walked the clean path of an athlete and a scholar. Then, I had my first beer at 26 years old and Peter Coors poured it for me.
He filled two glass steins with his family's namesake product and touched them together and handed me one. "I'd like to introduce you to our new Miss Coors," he proclaimed to the media who had gathered in a small eatery in Golden, Colorado. He and his wife Marilyn showed up at many of my personal appearances in their private plane which was always exciting.
Twelve cases of beer, Coors, of course, were delivered to my hotel room everyday for me to give away for "goodwill." I never felt so popular. I travelled 46 weeks straight and had to check the hotel phone each day to figure out where I was.
One day, we were lined up at a rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyoming, to ride the "circle 8" which is when all the contestants of a rodeo ride out for the audience and someone said, "Lane's down at Calgary." By the time we finished the opening routine, we heard that Lane was dead. Lane Frost had been my friend in rodeo. His last interview was with me in Santa Maria, California and I saw snippets of that interview on the news over and over and over.
Then, they made the movie "8 Seconds" and it tried to do justice to his life. But that didn't touch how deep his friendship to Tuff Hedeman was. I was with Tuff at the very next rodeo in Fort Madison, Iowa, and he showed up, ready to ride and do the press tour. Tuff and I were auctioned off at a benefit for some charity. We both had to dance with someone who had bid on us.
"How are you even here?" I asked him. I heard some rich businessman flew him and Lane's saddle to his dad after the bullrider's death. "You gotta cowboy up or you die too," he told me. OMG! What a trouper. He was barely there and racked with grief.
I loved the rodeo circuit. The supercross appearances were too much for me. It was drunk men and their drunk friends and their drunken behavior. But I was on contract, so, in front of 30,000 people at Jack Murphy Stadium along with many other venues, I did my spiel on the Adoph Coors Company and its 10,500 employees in Golden. Colorado. I've said the speech so many times...
There it is. My raw and rough history. No obituary worth noting and an alcoholic noting her first beer. Read it and weep unless you choose to pray, that would be my choice.
With honesty and respect of the truth, I am SherryD