Man credits horseshoe-playing with recovery after near-death experience
SOOKE – Before he starts practicing at the Sooke Horseshoe Pitch, Ron throws a squeaky-toy for his dog to retrieve. When I ask the Chihuahua's name, Ron laughs and tells me that – when he was a puppy -- everybody said he was growing like a weed.
"So I thought, I never heard anybody call their dog weed, so I figured Weed was a good name," he says.
Although the now-adult dog can appear as small as his namesake, Weed couldn't be a bigger fan of Ron. The dog sits on a nearby picnic table and wags his tail while his human throws horseshoes.
"I love the sport," Ron says. "It's good therapy."
Ron says it helped after what happened to him about 25 years ago while he was standing on the side of a Campbell River road.
"This car came along and nailed me on the right side," he says. "And boom, through the window."
After he bounced off the car's windshield, Ron says he flew headfirst into a parked semi-truck, before crashing on the road.
"The paramedics and such [were] waiting for the Coroner to pronounce it dead," he says.
"Pronounce 'you' dead?," I try to clarify.
"Well the body was down there," Ron explains. "It wasn't me."
Ron says he was separate from his body, floating above all the chaos, looking down.
"[I was] having to make a choice," Ron recalls. "There was somebody urging me on, 'C'mon Ron! Let's go have some fun, Man! There's no time! C'mon!'"
But then, Ron says, he looked down and saw his young kids experiencing so much confusion and his wife running towards his body in so much despair. She ripped a sheet off his body, Ron says, and started shaking it.
"[She was] saying, 'You can't die on me now!' And then she said, 'I love you!' And then I 'bopped' back into the body." Ron explains, fighting back tears. "I consider it loving you back to life."
Then next thing Ron remembers is being back in his body confused.
"I woke up in Vancouver General Hospital," Ron says with a laugh. "I still thought I was in Campbell River."
He was told he'd woken from an almost month-long coma, was partially paralyzed, and suffering a severe head injury.
"There were some body years," Ron admits. "Re-learning everything was just hard."
I ask why he thinks he survived the accident. He answers it was to teach his kids about living and dying.
"I'm not a religious person," he explains. "But it's not the end. There's still life after."
The experience also compelled Ron to start writing poetry and publish a book to inspire others recovering from trauma. He started playing horseshoes to help rehabilitate his broken body. It worked so well, he won his division at a recent B.C. Championships.
While Ron practises his throws for the camera, Weed wags his tail and barks in encouragement. The pup, it seems, couldn't be more proud.
"He's a pretty good-looking dog, man." Ron says.