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The Gift

Howdy My Western Hearts! I hope you are having a wonderful spring day and celebrating life. Let’s saddle up and I will share with you a story of a gift I received long, long ago.


Aside from my family, there has not been too many things in my life that I have followed and loved throughout my life…except horses and Willie Nelson. I can honestly say I have been a fan of his since I was 11 years old, I remember the time in my life when I was introduced to Willie’s music, and how it happened..

Willie Nelson Concert - Santa Clarita, CA - My Western Heart


So, here’s a little history a lot of people don’t know about me. At age 11, I lost my mom very suddenly and without warning. She was literally gone in less than a day. As a result, I was tossed to my dad, who at that time, had been busy with work and other things in his life. My mom was my world, as for most 11-year-old girls. I loved my daddy, but he was not mom. To say it was an adjustment for us both would be an understatement. He didn’t have the first idea how to raise a child, let alone a little girl. We didn’t have the same language as a mother and daughter, we didn’t share a lot in common.


One day my dad and I were driving home, I was in the back of his 1975 bright orange Chevy Blazer. I remember him saying, “hey Lis, check this out, I just got this new 8 track today, the guy is called Willie Nelson”.

The album was ,The Red Headed Stranger, I still have it today, just not in 8 track form. I was immediately hooked on the lyrics, sounds and stories that generated from that album. Who was this guy? I immediately loved him. My dad went on to explain he was an “Outlaw” in the country music world, he was breaking rules in Nashville and doing things his way, I can see why my dad liked him.

For me, I couldn’t stop listening to the music but something more important happened that day, my father and I finally had something together, something to share, a bond. For he and I it was a bond that would last forever. We would talk about Willie, share albums, whatever, it got us talking. My father was not a huge gift giver, but one thing he did give to me was a trilogy of Willie Nelson song’s. On the inside cover it says “Fortunately we are not in control” -Willie Nelson. I still try and remember those words when things aren’t going my way…

After my dad passed in 2002, I continued to listen to Willie and see him in concert, his music has brought me so much comfort during difficult times in my life as well as the good times. 

Back in 2004 I got a hold of some Willie tickets at the fabulous Santa Barbara Bowl, my favorite cowgirl coworker and I took a drive and had a night I will never forget. My friend was a mom that never got out, so for her this was a big night! For me, I couldn’t wait to see Willie again. 

 We planted ourselves way up in the land of the lost, had a few beers, smelled some good stuff and listened to Willie beneath the stars. What a night! How could it get better? Right…well…

My little cowgirl friend says, “come on, we're going to the front”. What? What was she talking about, she takes off towards the front of the stage, I had to follow right? Before we knew it, we were right there in the front of the stage and then…the concert ended. Big sigh. I stood there looking at the back of Willie as he carried Trigger off the stage. Then it happened, it got better! Willie turned around and headed back on stage, he walked right up to me and shook my hand. Was I dreaming, did I smoke some Willie weed? LOL No, it was him.  I could see the time warn lines on his face, the kind gentle smile that only Willie has, that glint of mischief in his eye and the long red braids. His handshake was firm and strong, his hands were calloused from playing guitar but at the same time gentle. 

I shook his hand and just stood there. My friend screamed, “Willie just shook your hand!!!” I was in shock to say the least. A night I will never forget! 

Living in California, from time to time you see “stars” but I could care less, it doesn’t mean a thing to me but Willie, that was a different deal. I was truly amazed that he walked up to me. If I didn’t know better…I would say my dad had something to do with it, but who knows, but I wouldn’t put it past him wherever he is. 

This month, Willie will be 88 years old! Happy birthday Willie!

I had wrote this post several years ago but felt strongly that I needed to share "the gift” that he gave my dad and I so many years ago.

Now I know he will never read this and I am sure there a many, many other people that have special stories and memories of Willie but today I needed to share this story again.

I snapped these shots a few years ago, in Santa Clarita CA

Willie Nelson Santa Clarita CA


So, wherever you are Willie, I hope you birthday is filled with special gifts and love this year and always!

One of your biggest fans! Thanks for the gift!

Until next time my friends, happy, healthy trails!

Leave a comment if you like, would love to hear your thoughts







  • This was such a beautifully written story Lis and so heartfelt. I so enjoyed reading your story. Thank you for sharing.

    Nancy Cochran
  • Awwwww Lis, finally got the opportunity to read this 🤗 Love it so much. I’ve always known what a big fan you were, but never knew this story❤️ Trying to figure out who the friend was!!!🙃🙃😘

    Debbie Kolodney
  • Such a beautiful story

    Rachel DeBerdt

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