Then he tied a cord to the end of a mop,

And said, "Son, here's a pony, keep her at a trot."

And I'd ride in circles while he laughed a lot.

Then I'd flop down beside him.

And he was ninety years old in sixty-three

And I loved him and he loved me.

And lord, I cried the day he died,

-He Walked on Water Randy Travis

The pain hadn't settled in yet. I was still numb with shock; I didn't want to believe it was true; it just couldn't be true.

I grew up on a ranch in Texas, some twenty miles outside of Dallas. My family raised horses for a living; I had been riding since I could sit up. I got my first horse the day I was born; the beautiful black foul had been born the same day I had. Like me, she was a little girl. My grandfather, my mother's father, named her Little Blackie, after Mattie Ross's horse in our favorite book, True Grit.

I was one of the lucky little girls who asked for a pony on her fifth birthday and got it. She was Little Blackie's daughter; I asked my grandfather to name her. He chose the name Venus, a woman who was always know for her beauty in ancient times.

I asked what my name was for. "Sophia, it means wisdom," he told me. I thought this was silly, I had never been the smartest, and in no way wise.

Everything my grandfather did, I wanted to do. He played guitar so I did too. He listened to Woody Guthrie so I did too. And when I got married I would dance to "Silver Wings," Like he did. My grandfather was my hero. The way I saw it, he was invincible and could do nothing wrong. A child always believes their hero is utterly and completely unstoppable. To think otherwise would simply be un-childlike.

He was a good man, always fair and rational. A good husband and father, he never drank, (though he had a nasty habit of smoking a pipe on the back porch), he was always able to support his family, and he supported them no matter what. Any man who can father six children, raise them all and have them all grow up to be successful, I think, is amazing. My grandfather had a passion for parenting and passing everything good he knew and had to the next generation.

Of all my family, my grandfather was the one who supported my dream the most. Even if my parents claimed to support me in everything, I could tell they weren't too happy about me wanting to run away to Nashville and become a Country singer. The goal was to get into the Grand Ole Opry, take my place among some of the most amazing and iconic country singers of all time. That was the dream; I would do anything to reach it.

I sat in my room and practiced for hours, only coming out to see my horses. Though I didn't have the passion for raising horses and riding them that my mother had, they were undeniably magnificent animals. They moved with such a grace and speed; there was also a unique beauty about a horse unmatched by any other animal. That was one of the many lessons my grandfather taught me as a child.

Another was, "You can be the best guitar player in the world, but if you don't love what you're doing, you will never be great. To achieve greatness, not only do you have to strive for it, you must love what you do to reach it. It takes more than talent to be great; it takes a passion. Passion is not something that can be bought, or taught, or borrowed. It is something you are born with," I had a passion for music, but my greatest passion was to be like my grandfather in almost every way.

It might seem weird, a girl wanting to be like her grandfather, but to me it wasn't. I wanted to be someone who was loyal, truthful, faithful, and kind. All of these things my grandfather was. I remember sitting on his lap when I was young, listening to the amazing stories he told about growing up on a farm. Riding horse all day, running through great fields with his brothers and sisters, swimming in the small creak behind their home, meeting grandma, their wedding, going to the first football game played at Dallas, and so many more. I was always amazed how he could remember so many little details, even if some were a little shaky.

My favorite stories he would tell were the ones about training (and taming) his first horse. His name was Guthrie, for Woody Guthrie. A cream colored thoroughbred, with white makings around his ankles, making it look like he had socks on. The horse was nicknames "Socks," and came to respond better to Socks than Guthrie. There were a few pictures Guthrie, usually a much younger version of my grandfather was riding him. My favorite, which I hung in my room, was a picture of my grandfather, no older than twenty, sitting on the horse with a young woman. They were smiling and holding hands. The wind was blowing the woman's short curly hair and the flowered skirt of her dress in all directions. This woman is my grandmother, my mother looked a lot like her, with blond curly hair, usually held back with pins, (though my grandmothers hair has since turned a nice shade of silver.)

Even though my grandmother was no longer a youthful, petite, blond, my grandfather always loved her. He never once looked at another woman. He was always loyal and faithful, "People don't seem to understand love anymore," he once said, "someone always seems to be getting divorced," I guess my grandfather understood love pretty well, being married for seventy four years. I once asked my grandfather what love was, he told me it wasn't something that could be defined, it was something you could feel, and you would know it when you felt it. It's hard to explain feelings, especially love. I told him I knew there were a lot of different kinds of love: love for family, love for your significant other, love for pets, love for friends, love for foods; so many more. How would I know when I was in love?

"You'll know," he told me.

Singers often define love as wanting to take some ones cloths off and calling them a name referring to a little child; poets define it as someone who you look at differently, when you see them angles sing; authors define love as never letting go, "After all this time? /Always,"; the dictionary defines love as 1) a strong affection, 2) warm attachment, 3) beloved person.

My grandfather didn't have a definition, and yet, I've found his was the most accurate. It wasn't something you could describe or put into words; a lack of words best defines love.

Pain is a lot like love, as on you cannot describe true pain, physical or emotional. When I fell of my horse when I was eleven and broke my leg, I could describe my pain as "OWWWW!" That was all; there were no words. The same goes for emotional pain.

Singers define it as something they can use as inspiration for a song fifteen-year-old girls will listen to after a break up; poets define it as a sharp pain that can drive them to madness or to do something they will regret; authors define it with something physical, like "shedding tears," or "she could feel her heart breaking,"; the dictionary defines it as 1) punishment or penalty, 2) suffering of body or mind 3) great care.

But what I was feeling now is indescribable. I never asked my grandfather what he would define pain as, even if he did, he would say the same thing as love, "You'll know,"

And now I do. I saw my grandfather lying there, as if he was sleeping. But I knew he wasn't, he was too pale, too cold, and too empty. He wasn't Grandpa anymore he was rotting flesh pumped with chemicals to mask the smell of death. The amazing soul that was my grandfather had decided to flee in the middle of the night, taking all the warmth with him, leaving nothing but and empty, rotting shell behind for us to mourn.

The pain hadn't settled in yet. I was still numb with shock; I didn't want to believe it was true; it just couldn't be true.