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.
47 thoughts on “One Very Special Day at The Calgary Stampede”
Your amazing. I have read your blog for many years! Good luck in retirement you truly inspire a lot of woman out there! Will miss cheering him on
Thank you. I enjoy writing. And will continue. Another journey begins for us. Right now we are just catching up on things on the Ranch and enjoying home.
You have a lovely way of writing from the heart , don’t ever loose it.
I have always loved the chuck wagon races , when I was young, we sat on a big hill (cant remember the name) in Calgary and watched every nights run.. When we got older we were taken to the Stampede grounds and could watch as we sat in the stands. I’m too old to go ‘Stampedin’ anymore,and thank goodness for TV, I have never lost the thrill of watching the wagons and the beautiful horses fairly fly around the track.
Your PS was so right on, letting go is so hard to do.
Looking forward to reading more about your journey in life after so many years of “Chuck wagons”.
Thank you so much for following along. Glad you enjoyed. The hill is Scotchmans Hill. I too when I first dated Rick, were part of that hill. Down below was where the barns were way back in the early 80’s for me. So many great memories.
Cheers to you
Condolences to you and your family.
Seen your interview on TV and I’m so glad you’re going to keep writing your blog. Going to miss team 23 on the chuckwagon trail but hopefully your son will carry on the family tradition. Dave and Joan were good friends with my parents when we lived in Grande Prairie . Wonderful and caring people!!! Good luck in the next chapter of your lives .
Team 23 forever💖
Thank you so much. So many connections. I enjoyed the writing, and it was good for me, especially to know it helped people on their journey too.
Well said Sue and yes we do what we must when we must.
Our condolences as well to you and your whole family. Your dad was great man who touched so many people.
Hello Pat and Ruth
Thank you. Yes dad was quite the special guy for all who knew him.
Good morning Sue , A big thank you to you and Rick for sending me the hats shirt and pictures of Rick and Cody all signed it’s all on my wall in my living room so I get to see them every day Thank you again.
Your very welcome. And thank you for following along all these years.
Beautifully said Sue….brought some tears to these old eyes…all the best to you and Rick and your precious family…
Thank you. My dad was one special guy.
I cannot imagine how you survived the Calgary Stampede with everything you had to deal with. You are one very strong woman, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and Rick in Medicine Hat when my former employer, Stringam, sponsored Team 23.
Take much needed time for you to grief the loss of your dad and the end of a career that you and Rick have thoroughly enjoyed. Retirement takes some time to adjust to but it is a wonderful new career that lets you do the things you have always wanted to go but never had the time. Enjoy!
I really had an extra pitch fork for you in Medicine Hat! LOL. Was good to meet you. It is good to be home, yet continue with many emotions. Which to me is to be expected. It is all part of our journey.
Cheers to you
Lol! I know I really shou have got my butt out of bed and helped with chores.
We heard that Rick had some Team 23 jackets for sale. Does he still have some and if so, how much are they?
No, we don’t have any jackets for sale. But it might be a good, if we had enough orders.
Rick and Sue
I’ll miss seeing your outfit on the Chuckwagon Circut. Always so well prepared clean and professional.
I looked forward to your blog every morning, reading how the night before went. You always told it as it was. If it was a bad night and things never went well you just said ir as it was. If was great, it was grea.Much appreciated.
Those last moments with your dad are most precious, The celebration of his life with your family is most touching to read. Precious Memories
Also the Red Roses decorating the barn.
Wishing you both much happiness in your retirement from racing.
May the next chapter of your lives be just as exciting.
Wishing you all the very best.
Hope we keep seeing a blog or two down the road of your lives.
Thank you for your kind words. I have truly enjoyed writing all these years. Doesn’t really seem that long. I am forever grateful for the memories to pass onto my kids and grandkids. I am looking to put my stories into book form.
Sue, a few years ago I started to follow this. I enjoy it so much. Best wishes in your next chapter. Condolences to you and your family
Glad you have enjoyed my journey. It has been quite the thing for me to share. I have enjoyed it and it is also great history to pass on to my family.
Dear Sue and Rick,
Sue, today your writing about your Father touches and belongs in the hearts of all who, in time, have faced and will face those moments in life that break our hearts. You have shown that the love of family helps to not only mend but also helps to keep that loved one with you forever in ways that open up to us as time goes by. It has always been like this and to take the time to reflect, honour and be open to others is how we, as human beings, have carried on but never forgetting our loved one. Our abilities to do so are bigger than we could ever imagine.
Thank you Sue, for your openness now which will help many, I know. I lost my dear sister just a few months ago and reading this today has helped me to take another step forward into living my life to once again to feel that inner joy, knowing a part of my heart will always be hers.
My family has so enjoyed your writing, we have cheered and hoped for you all of these years to be safe and happy and we send you and yours all kinds of good wishes to continue on doing whatever it is that brings hope and passion into your lives. We can’t say thank you enough for all of these years and even the chance to sit in your wagon several years ago!
Wishing you and yours all the best of the best that can be as you and Rick enjoy the gifts of life to the fullest as you have always done. And yes, your Father/Grandfather/Great Grandfather will be with you, always.
Thank you for your kind letter. I am so excited to hear that what I have written has helped someone else. Years ago a lady came to meet me in Strathmore to tell me that my blog had helped her in her life. That was a good reason to keep on writing and that is just what I have done. I will continue to write and my goal is to put my writing into book form.
Cheers to you
Thank you Sue for all your beautiful, sometimes funny, and always informative blogs about your life as a wagon driver’s wife and the glue that keeps a family together. I will miss you, Rick and Team 23 at the races but your decisions for change is well deserved.
Your memories of your dear Father will get you through the rough days ahead. No matter how old we are, we will always be our Daddies little girls.
Hugs and best wishes to you all.
you are such a strong woman! I have also lost my Father and I think I may have an idea of how hard that decision must have been for you…..but I know, as you do, that your Dad approved! I so admire you. Relax, take are of you and your family……I have so enjoyed getting to know you through your blog. Cheers and all the best to you all as you move forward
thank you for your kind words and also thank you for following along in my journey. The decision was the right one, and we are thankful for how our day went.
Wow, what a moving read.
I hope you catch up on much needed rest and not only enjoy me time but also enjoy family times.
Forgiveness is tough, I know when our grandson was killed we had to somehow try and forgive the young man responsible, although I don’t think I have fully forgiven him for taking my precious gift away, I have moved forward.
Enjoy life. Best wishes as team 23 moves forward, maybe one day we will be able to cheer on team 48.
All the best.
Sent from Denise’s iPhone 🌻 Family… The ones we live with, laugh with,♥ and love.
Thank you for your kind words. We are happy to be home, yet continue with many emotions. Thank you for sharing your news about your son. Such a difficult situation. Hugs to you as you continue on your journey.
Hi Sue , my condolences on the loss of your dear father. Very difficult to say goodbye to those we love. He will walk beside you every day for those we love never really go away. Love is eternal.
Wishing you and rick all the very best in your future endeavours. It has been a real pleasure to follow your blog as I cheered on team 23.
Will miss you!
Sincerely, Muriel Christopher.
Thank you Muriel for following along. Thank you for your kind words. Daily I remember great times with my father. I went picking Saskatoons yesterday, something that my father loved and taught us to do. A happy memory.
What a beautiful post Sue. You have such a positive outlook on life which is a truly admireable trait. I can’t wait to see what great things you accomplish in your next chapter of life. I hope you are able to keep writing as you have a god given talent in this department! See you soon .
Love The Fech’s
Hi Jenny and Family
thank you. I just knew I had to share more when I arrived home. It was a tough go in Calgary, but a good one.
I am looking forward to keep up the blog.
Cheers to you all
🙂 Kind Regards
Thank you Marilyn
Oh Sue, So beautifully written and such great Memory photos! 💕
You were in exactly the right place! So wise you are.
You’re Dad’s Celebration of Life was very lovely. It was a pleasure to attend
Such a well lived life he had. Treasure all your memories. Hope to see you soon
Thank you! Happy that you were in attendance. My dad was a good man. We truly did have a wonderful family get together.
Hi Sue, I can’t begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed all your posts. I feel we have become friend through your blogs. I’ve laughed and cried reading them over the years.
You have a special gift for writing, and I’d love to keep up on where your next adventure leads you. You and Rick are special people.
Maybe one day a book!
Relax, rest up, grieve you Dad, enjoy your grandkids, and take time for yourself.
I wish you and Rick much happiness.
Thank you! for your kind words. And yes, it just amazes me how through my blog, I have many more friends. I never dreamed that my story would reach so many people, as well as impact them in their lives. In this, I am thankful. I am looking putting my writing into a book. I’ve been encouraged to, so I will.
Such a heartfelt tribute to your dad Sue. It was wonderful to read, reminding me to appreciate each moment that my family has with ‘grandpa/dad’.
Logan & our family watched or listened to each race, cheering Rick and your riders on to the finish line. While camping, Logan would call us to keep us informed about what was going on at the Stampede!
We have so enjoyed reading your blog – seeing you on the big TV screen talking about whether you may keep doing it…we hope so.
All our best from Winfield – Logan and our family who got to be a part of your Chuckwagon racing family in Drumheller and Rocky Mountain House for a brief time. We’ll always remember that first win there, in the mud.
Thank you for helping so many of us follow your journey.
Time has flown. Seems like just yesterday Logan was along side me filling water buckets. It was a pleasure to have him.
I’m glad you enjoyed following along on my journey. It is something I am thankful I have done, and will continue to write.
Cheers to you
Well I have to say both of you have had an amazing career and I have had the chance to met you and see rick race I hope for the best in retirement 👍
Was good to have met you. You are one wise young fella and you got a good road ahead of you. Thank you for your kind words.
Sue that was a great read. You did what you needed to do . Also I was a great event at this end . Will see you down the road at some point enjoy you next adventure
Darcy & Tracey
Hello Darcy and Tracey
Thank you. I truly know, we all were in the right place. Glad to hear that the ceremony was good. I heard that from a few folks that attended. Looking forward to our next get together with you two.
Hi Susan, I tried to send an email but it came back as it must have been an old address. I just wanted to send our condolences to you and yours on the death of your Dad Sig. His funeral was a beautiful send off. Thank you for your tributes to him in your posts. He will be sorely missed not only by your Mom and all the family but also by the rest of us. May he Rest In Peace.
Also, good luck on your next adventures now that your Chuckwagon days are over. With our sympathy,, and prayers, Pat and Bert. 🙏🏽✝️🙏🏽
Thank you 🙏🏻
Yes my email has changed to email@example.com
I heard dads service was beautiful. That is good. He was a great man and father. He’s left behind many good kids.
We are adjusting to things at home. Lots different emotions. Lots to do around the Ranch. We have yet to figure out our next venture in life but I’m not worried. There’s plenty of things out there waiting.
Good to hear from you and hello to Bert as well. He sent a message a bit ago to. Take care
Hi Sue & Rick
First off we are sorry for your loss of your Dad. I have good memories of Uncle Sig down the road!
Second, congrats on your retirement! I am sure it is bittersweet! Many great memories there!
Third, our email address has changed. Would you please change it in your contacts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, love from,
Cousin Rhonda Lou & Henry
Ryan, Amanda & Serene
Memories are what we hold onto for sure. And that is a good thing.
Thank you. Retirement from the Chuckwagon Trail is very different for sure. Adjusting to it. In little baby steps. In time it will be bigger steps. It is all good, just an adjustment in time. I have changed your email in my contacts. You may have to go back into the blog and change your address if you wish to keep receiving my writing. Was good to see you and your family.