John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Rick gives forth with a song

At his best, Rick tells a story


On Thursday, March 29, 2007 my cousin Eric Small (Ricky to his family) suffered a heart attack on the banks of the Chilliwack River (or maybe the Vedder, I'm not exactly sure). He was discovered by another fisherman and transported via helicopter to the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. He never regained consciousness and, according to his wishes discussed with his wife, Wendy, after it was determined he had suffered global brain damage due to oxygen deprivation; he was removed from sustaining life support during the following days. Wendy shared with me that he reposed in a state that told her he was on the riverbank, doing what he loved. On Easter Sunday, around 4:30 pm, his body finally gave up the struggle, as it should be.

His family was with him and got to say their goodbyes. While I never had that opportunity, as I related in a previous posting, Brenda and I had run into Rick and his wife Wendy in Save-On Foods just before we left home, where we had a long, laughing discussion about the joys of retirement. We had talked about how lucky we felt that we were enjoying our retirements and were glad to have our health. I don't know if my memory is correct or I just want to think this, but I feel that we discussed wanting to go out doing something we love, virtually with our "boots on". I know Ricky did.

You should know what a fantastic human Ricky was. We were 2 years apart in age and had spent much of our childhood together. Whether in the Small family home along the banks of the Coquihalla River, at our Grandparents home in Lone Butte or around our family home in Kamloops, it seemed we were together always. Rick and I started at BC Tel around the same time in the late 1960's and were in each others wedding parties.

I have so many memories of those times together: fishing, hunting, fast cars, booze, parties and family. Ricky was the official (or maybe unofficial, it doesn't really matter) historian of the Nordgren family. He had all the stories that he remembered from Grandpa and Grandma Nordgren and his Mom, my Auntie Anna as well as my Dad, Eric. He had a phenomenal collection of family photos that he could pull together in a heartbeat.

We grew up with fathers who loved fishing and we got to do more than our share as kids. Ricky however developed a life-long passion that bordered on obsession. I was able to go river fishing with him a couple of times over the last few years; it just wasn't enough. I wish we had done it more. He absolutely glowed on the river, with his chest waders on and watching his lure bounce in the current.

Simply put, I loved my time with Ricky....I just wish I had more of it. It is a joy knowing he died doing something he loved, with his waders on.

In the guestbook of our Trip Journal, in an entry dated March 6, you will see an note from Rick's sister Carole and her husband Ralph and I quote "We love a road trip, so thanks for including us on yours! One of our best was with Rick and Wendy down the dusty Winnemucca road. Bon Voyage, from Carole and Ralph."

According to his wishes, there will be no formal service. Rick was cremated and as soon as the family can gather together, they will spread his ashes on the mighty Fraser River.

Ricky, I know we'll meet again on that dusty Winnemucca Road.

Your cuz,


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