(Reprinted with permission of the Watts family)
If you are reading this, I’m no longer here. I recently had a very bad stroke. It robbed me of my body but not my spirit and as usual I got what I wanted; to leave on my own terms, to say goodbye to my family and friends and then to quietly slip away in peace at home.
During my last few days, I was so thrilled when all of you rode your bikes past my bedroom window on a slow roll. A lot of you said you were so sad about this. Well golly, get over it. My father always said nobody promised fair. But I have been so lucky; my life has been beyond my wildest dreams. And you know that’s saying a lot for an impossible dreamer like me. Let me tell you why.
First of all, when I was a teenager I fell hopelessly in love with Trent. And as impossible as it may seem, after 50 years of marriage, I love him even more today.
Then there are my children. Brad and Sarah. We’ve watched them grow into strong, compassionate human beings who accept no limits on their imagination. They married Sarah Oosman and Therin Rhaintre, two beautiful women of a similar spirit. We couldn’t be prouder.
I’ve had so many glorious adventures. Each summer for almost 20 years I paddled with my fellow physiotherapists plus one poet into the Northern Saskatchewan wilderness. We camped by crystal clear water. We climbed on favourite rocks and sang O Canada to the loons. We swam in the nude, so naturally we called ourselves the Canudists.
Trent and I travelled the world on our bikes. All over Europe, and in New Zealand and Australia. I can tell you the TransCanada Trail needs work. I know, I’ve bumped along a lot of it.
Love affairs; I’ve had a few of those too. One was with Canada. For me, voting was an act of passion. I feel so lucky to have lived here, so happy that other Canadians want to share this wonderful land with less fortunate people from other places.
I loved the Canadian wilderness, better than any pill at reviving my spirit.
Most of all I was passionately in love with cycling. The very first time I got on a bike it was like no other feeling. For a lot of my life cycling wasn’t much in style. Certainly not in winter. At some point I thought, ‘I need to change this!”
When I became co-chair of Saskatoon Cycles 10 years ago, I believed the city’s geography was perfect for year-round cycling. I dreamed we could become one of the best bike cities in the world. I was a happy agitator at city council, always trying to convince the people in charge that a bicycle is a simple solution to a complex problem.
Of course, there are many things I will miss. I’ll miss Quiltfest when my friends and family gathered on July long weekend for three days of frenzied creation that always ended with singing O Canada.
I’ll miss scribbling in my calendar and imagining a week filled with purpose. I’ll miss sitting in a coffee shop and dividing one fresh donut with three close friends.
I’ll miss hugging my two precious grandchildren, Olive and Hamish. I’ll miss watching them grow into adulthood and navigate this complicated world. But I know they have the stuff to be happy and successful.
Now I am on another journey. If I go to heaven, I don’t intend to rest. I’ll be looking for bike lanes and if I don’t find any, there will be hell to pay.
So, if you are reading this, don’t be sad and certainly don’t send flowers.
Here’s what I want you to do instead. Support my beloved Saskatoon Cycles, because there’s still a lot of work to do. Then get on a bike, head for a trail and feel what it’s like to be free.