Millions of people today use “Take Care” to say goodbye, so long, hope everything’s fine, and other salutations at the end of a chat, letter, email, or last hug. It’s a cliché, but it’s OK because it’s short for lots of things. It could be a warning, a fond farewell, or even a cover for what they can’t say. Like this is over, Charlie. Or maybe, I don’t really care but my Mom said always be nice to people, even if you don’t like them.
Angus lived in the 1880s; nobody back then said “take care.” They said tighten your cinch, watch your top-knot, and I love you, but mostly they just rode on out, eyes on the trail, or the upslope ahead. They didn’t give too much thought to what they were leaving behind. Life was more precarious back then. Less touchy-feely than today. But parting then, like now, was a serious thing. Life spans were half what they are now, and friends were fewer because folks didn’t congregate like we do now.
We see most country people as quaint these days—fewer friends and a lot more space. They’d think us plumb nuts; could not even imagine what goes on these days in Facebook, or the way we tweet, Twitter, and Instagram our lives.
But taking care is what they did for one another in ways that today would seem childish. Take care is shorthand for good health, best wishes, happiness, and safe travels. Health was more fragile two and a half centuries ago. And today, stress is a much bigger deal—it’s the age of frenetic, frantic, flippin’ and freaking.
So instead of signing off with a “take care,” I’ll say “take your time.” Angus did.