As each and every one of us goes about our days, we make plans, sometimes days, weeks, months and even years ahead filling up our calendar. Yet even the most finalized plans may not turn out how we expected. And you know? That is just OK. Because through those changes, there is always good or even better that comes out of it all.
Back home in May, before we left for the 2018 World Professional Chuckwagon Tour, Rick and I made the decision it was time to hang up the lines. Our career as a Chuckwagon Driver and his wife, were coming to and end. We made the call to our announcer Les McIntyre, and passed on the news. The horse auction sale was set for July 14th, the last Saturday of the Calgary Stampede.
When we completed our show up in Grande Prairie on May 3rd, where I was born and raised, I couldn’t have asked for a better closing. My father was able to come for a visit after the final night of racing. He was excited to be able to see Rick and our son Cody race. He loved seeing the grand-kids and Great grandson Ryker. Thanks to the world of technology, we also face-timed our daughter Amy and grandson Coy so Grandpa could see them as well.
When the night came to a close, and we said our goodbyes, I said to my kids, that I knew in my heart, that would be the last we would see dad/grandpa. I just knew.
Calgary Stampede arrived, and I was informed that my father was on his last days. Word came from a friend of my fathers, that Dad had asked for me, as he knew he had not long to live. A gracious friend, flew us and my daughters and grandson to say our last goodbyes.
Although he was not coherent, in my heart I knew he heard my whispers of “Thank you daddy.” and “I love you!”. “Till we meet again.” A very comforting and precious moment.
While in the air, returning to Calgary, my dad went on to that heavenly place they call home.
The Stampede continued, and life went on. With my husband, kids, grand-kids, friends and family, we were just where we needed to be, continuing our life as competitors at the Calgary Stampede.
My fathers funeral was set for July 14th, the last Saturday of the Calgary Stampede. The day of our Retirement Auction Sale. Sometimes in life we are stretched to our fullest, and I believe with my full being, that a person has to do what their heart tells them and not what others input would be.
I gathered my husband Rick and my children together, and it was decided that we as a family needed to be together for our sale, and also to have our time of celebration of my dad’s life with one another as well.
The horse sale went according to plan. The emotions were high, the buyers were there. All in all the whole thing went well. At one point I looked up, and a beautiful bird was hovering over. A sign that my dad was free.
My dad was a man of many trades. Everything he did, he did with his hands. He taught his children to work. An electrician by trade, yet a carpenter, construction worker, bookkeeper, farmer, provider, you name it, he did it. It was only fitting that with the traits that my dad taught us, my siblings created a work of art, the casket to which my dad would be laid.
The afternoon of July 14th, we gathered together, my children, grand kids, and a few close friends. The Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon Committee went above and beyond to help my kids set up a place for us to celebrate the life of my dad, and the grandpa they knew. We hugged, we laughed and cried a tear or two. We finished our gathering with a toast of rum and coke in honour of the man I called dad. He loved to have a rum, with anyone who passed through. I say thank you to all that made this day come true, and it is just where we were supposed to be.
The day did not end there. The races continued, and we were in the final 8. Off the four barrel was tough and we just didn’t have enough to make it to the next days Championship Dash. It was still a very good run at that.
We had many visitors come by. My friend Marci and her friend Simone, dropped in to say hello. We began to chat, and I was asked are we keeping any of the horses. I mentioned we were still undecided as to what we were going to do with our highly awarded right leader Nickel. I introduced them to Nickel and what I heard next was just the decision we needed to hear. I was told that Nickel needed to go home. That Rick had promised him over the years that when we were done, he was going to go home and just be. Nickel said he was tired and had a bit of arthritis set in. You see, this lady has a gift to communicate with animals. And this is what she had said. This couldn’t have been a better ending to a day filled with so many different emotions.
As we have only been home a few days, my time has been spent trying to catch up on some much-needed sleep, as I have come home, emotionally, physically and mentally drained. I know I just need to recharge and look after me.
I thank each and every one of you that has sent me a message of condolence and otherwise. I have read them all. I have started to send my reply’s, as there are so many it will take me awhile. Thank you for following along.
From the Travelin Trailer
Sue, with Rick and “Team 23”
P.S. One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go. Whether its guilt, anger, love, loss or betrayal. Change is never easy. We fight to hold and we fight to let go.