Thursday, December 21, 2006

One of the Good 'Uns

Legendary western singer and songwriter, Ian Tyson, put out a CD a few years ago called All The Good 'uns. The CD contains a lot of the good 'uns -- songs Ian has sung over the years that not only are wonderful songs but bring back memories of a lot of good times.

The term has also always been our family shorthand for people who are "good 'uns" -- those folks who have made our particular world a better place.

One of those was a man named Lyle May who died earlier this week at the age of 95.

Lyle was, first and foremost, a cowboy. He cowboyed in Montana for a lot of years, then went on and did other things for a lot more years. When you live to be 95, you have time to do a lot of stuff. In his heart, though, Lyle knew he should always have stayed ahorseback. It's what he was happiest doing. What he was best at, he once told me.

I met Lyle 6 years ago when he wrote me a letter. He'd read a copy of my book, Cowboys Don't Cry, and he said, "It put me to mind of myself sixty years ago. It felt real."

A greater compliment no writer has ever received. I wrote him back, thanked him for his words and for taking the time to write and tell me so. He wrote me back. And I wrote him. We began a correspondence and conversations and visits that continued over the years.

Sometimes he would tell me he was boring because he didn't do anything anymore and he didn't have "nothin' to say." But it wasn't true. He always had plenty to say, stories to tell, tales to share. We talked about cowboying, about baseball and football, about politics and religion, kids and grandkids, about life in Montana then and now. Over the years I can't think of much we didn't talk about.

Knowing Lyle, talking to Lyle, listening to Lyle, laughing with Lyle were always times of joy. They were certainly an unexpected gift.

It is, perhaps, the greatest part of being a writer -- the joy of touching peoples' lives and being touched in turn -- in ways you never expect.

I know that I told Lyle how much his friendship meant to me. And he did the same. But I need to say it one more time, to remember again how lucky I was to have Lyle take the time to write that letter, to reach out and make that connection. He made my world a brighter, richer, better place. He was definitely one of the good 'uns.

Thanks, Lyle, for being my friend.

12 Comments:

Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Anne, so sorry to hear you've lost such a wonderful friend. The world sounds like it will be a poorer place without Lyle. But you must feel so lucky to have had the chance to know him.

21 December, 2006  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Very lucky indeed, Anna. I hope your books bring you equally wonderful friendships! I've really enjoyed getting to know you through our writing, too. Merry Christmas!

21 December, 2006  
Blogger Kate Walker said...

I've heard you talk about Lyle so many times - and I know how much he meant to you. SO I'm really sorry that he has left your life but I know you will have such wonderful friendships.

Like you, my books have brought me some truly special friends - amongst whom I count you. It's a bonus I never thought of when I was first published, but it has definitely become one of the greatest gifts that writing has brought me.


Thank you for your stories of Lyle, your books - with their echoes of Lyle in them - and most of all for your friendship

Kate

22 December, 2006  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

And thank YOU, Kate, for wonderful times and memories and enduring friendship.

Merry Christmas to you and all the family.

Anne

22 December, 2006  
Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Anne, it's been great getting to know you too! I'd like to take this chance to wish both you and Kate (another writing friend - I've been so lucky) a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2007! In fact, why stop there? Happy Holidays to everyone!!!

22 December, 2006  
Blogger Anne Gracie said...

What a beautiful tribute to Lyle, Anne. He sounds like a wonderful man -- and what a lovely thing to read your book and write to you. I loved that book, too. In fact I love all your cowboy books and mourn the lack of new ones.

All the best for Christmas and the new year.

22 December, 2006  
Blogger anne frasier said...

aww, i too remember how much you talked about lyle and how much you enjoyed your friendship. i'm sure you had a big impact on his later years. we live in a society that doesn't value the elderly and the personal view of history they can share. you were someone who truly wanted to hear his stories. RIP, Lyle.

22 December, 2006  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Thanks, Anna and Anne and Anne (do you sense a pattern here?) for your comments. I know, as writers, too, you've all made connections that have enriched your lives. And just as Lyle enriched mine, so have each of you. Thanks! And merry Christmas.

22 December, 2006  
Blogger anne frasier said...

how many ann names do we have here? 5?

i still say we should start a club. like heathers, but anns.

23 December, 2006  
Anonymous Conel@earthlink.net said...

Anne, you mentioned Ian's album. Lyle sounds like the kind of person that Ian might have known and liked. Do you know?. I am a great fan of Ians.

23 December, 2006  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Conel, I don't believe Ian knew Lyle, but I'm sure from what I knew of Lyle and what I've read and heard Ian say in interviews over the years that, yes, they would have enjoyed each other's company.

I, too, have been partial to Ian's music for a long time -- and a year ago danced to "The Wonder of It All" with one of my son's at his wedding.

I would love to hear him in live performance. As close as I got was when another son went to a concert in Bozeman and went out into the lobby during (I think it was) Navajo Rug, and called me, then held the phone out so I could listen! I'm still hoping to get there in person.

23 December, 2006  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Anne F, Five, yep. I agree. Let's start a club. In RWA there is the "cathy chapter" of which I am an honorary member because at the literacy signings I alway sit between two Cathys and they finally decided it was rude not to include me. So yes, an Ann/e/a chapter would be a great idea. How about we do a blog by Ann/e/as?

23 December, 2006  

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