WATCH: It was an emotional journey with a sad but beautiful ending as a family drove more than 1700 kilometres to take their dying dad to his family ranch. April Lawrence reports.
There is a special bond between paramedic Christie Chapman and Cheryl and Jami Watson, and it was formed somewhere along the highway between Victoria and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
Their emotional journey started in Victoria on August 26.
Cheryle’s dad, 95-year-old Jim Jeffery, was living out his final days in a care home, when her sister Denise mentioned the idea of taking him home to his ranch in Saskatchewan.
“When she said that he just went, and squeezed my hand and Denise said we’ve got to make this happen,” said Cheryle Watson.
Unsure how long their dad had left, they took off the next day.
“Even if he doesn’t make it at least he knows we tried,” said Cheryle.
But incredibly, as they picked up a growing entourage of friends and family, Jim only seemed to get stronger the closer they got to his beloved ranch.
“Wow you know what’s going on and you know where you are and you’re using your last bit of strength to tell your family that, that’s when it was just so amazing,” said Chapman who cared for Jim along the 1700 kilometre journey.
After 30 hours, they finally pulled down the dirt road to the ranch and were greeted by a flock of birds.
“To us we started crying because it was almost like a welcoming and they were just opening the road for him,” said Jeffery’s granddaughter Jami Watson.
They got Jim into a room with a view of the rolling hills he grew up on and, for a man known to love a good party, they celebrated.
“I think he had a drop of champagne too, we did give him a drop of champagne,” said Jami.
It was a beautiful send-off, and a day and a half after coming home, Jim Jeffery passed away.
“I think it was a gift that he gave us that we could let go slowly,” said Cheryle.
But Jim didn’t just get to spend his last moments on the ranch — he had built a cemetery on the property years earlier for just this moment.
He was carried on his grandparents horse-drawn wagon to his final resting place.
One final trail ride for the man who was always a country-boy at heart.