Afternoon My Relatives
My name is Jacqueline Watson Thompson. I am a granddaughter of Samuel and Kathleen Watson, Ochapowace Cree Nation. I was asked to share some words and stories on behalf of my Watson/Stanley relatives who are grieving the loss of Samuel David Roy Watson. Sam was born August 19, 1984 and was 36 years old. He spent his early childhood in his paternal homelands Ochapowace Cree First Nation, Broadview Saskatchewan and then moved to his maternal homelands Neekaneet Cree First Nation, Maple Creek Saskatchewan.
On Monday, January 11, 2020 After a 22 day battle with the Coronavirus Covid-19, my cousin Sam left us and made his journey to the everlasting spiritual paradise, Heaven. There he was greeted by his father Clayton Jerome Watson, Grandfather Samuel Watson whose name he carried, brother Chancellor Wade, nephew Brydon Samuel and niece London Watson. Left to carry his spirit and bloodline are his children: Kinlee Capri, Stetson, Jude and Chansler. Along with family: Mother Joyce, Brother Shawn (Marla), Sisters; Frances (Robert), Arlene and Lori. Sam has 5 nephews and 6 nieces along with two grandsons Easton and Ezekiel, and a granddaughter Karlee.
Sam was our family's first Covid-19 Warrior and he fought very hard, everyday, for 3 weeks to stay with us. During his brief stay in Swift Current Sam had regained consciousness and asked a tending nurse, “If I tell you, you’re pretty, will you feed me?” After they fed him, he kept the dessert and said, “I’m going to keep this in case you don’t feed me again!” And he went back to sleep.
At Sam’s day of death, there were 3,755 active Covid-19 cases, 197 of those were hospitalized with 31 of them in Intensive Care Units. There were 8 deaths that day including Sam, since the virus pandemic that’s a total of 199 deaths province wide. Covid-19 research is limited and still very new to the medical world, and there were many unanswered questions and false hope given in those 3 weeks. There were times our family gathered with the belief that this virus was curable and would not deliver life long damage. Then there came the time in those last days, that the medical team informed Aunty Joyce that he would not return to his physical health and his organs were in failure. Because of Sam’s isolation and the provincial restriction policies in place, his mother, brother and sisters were unable to stand by his bedside but continued to pray and believe in a miracle.
The family at this time, asks for your forgiveness and gives thanks to everyone for their patience and support as they were not able to take every phone call and reply to every text message. They were overwhelmed with the lack of communication and direction from medical staff. It’s not easy to stand in the hospital parking lot, wait for answers, cling to hope, and then communicate with others. When you are restricted from being at your loved ones bedside, then you might as well be a million miles away from them. The wake and funeral service has limited numbers and it’s added to the devastation that Sam’s passing has had. There are many who must begin their mourning and grieving ceremony alone, with no closure or goodbye to such a wonderful gentleman. In our traditional ceremony we are given our wake and funeral to see them one last time, to weep together, to hold each other, to pray, and to feast in celebration of their life and journey but we can not do that today. Furthermore the virus will continue to determine what our future looks like, and we are unsure of what date we can gather to share stories about the Sam we know, but we will gather and please join us then, for we will mourn this loss forever and our lives are changed and will never be the same.
My Uncle Clayton loved the Cowboy life, and he passed that lifestyle to his children who grew to love horses, rodeo, ranching, and that “work hard and live hard” ethic. Some may not know this but my Uncle had some grandiose names in store for his sons, the first born was going to be Horatio but Joyce talked him into Shawn, and the second was going to be named after his dad and that’s where Sam got his name. I know if my Uncle was still with us then he would tell us his boys got their looks and their personality from him.
Sam was destined to be a Cowboy from a young age, he had a southern drawl that sometimes got “Dewey Ann” worked up and she would say, “Hurry up and finish the story Sam or I’m going to!” I recall Sam’s love for “Wohbert.” Frances and Robert started dating back when we were little kids. Robert did the driving and they would come visit from Maple Creek. And Sam would be chatting away about “Wohbert this or Wohbert that.” Sam also adored his stepdad Harvey. Harvey had farm animals and Sam spent a lot of time with him. He was so amazed by Harvey, they cooked outside and slept outside and he was just in awe and thought he was so cool. I remember the story about him and Lori cornering pigs and Sam got out of the way fast, and “Dewey” didn’t and she was run over by a pig and mad about it. But Sam was trying to defend himself that if he didn’t get out of the way then he would have been run over. Anyway, Lori wasn’t having it that day, and Harvey laughed and that it made it worse. Lori got him back, when they were riding the horse Woody, and she accidentally flanked the horse and he started bucking. So instead of falling off alone, she took Sam with her.
In his early adulthood, Sam’s athleticism and commitment to the Cowboy lifestyle paid off when he competed in the 2009 International Indian Finals Rodeo in New Mexico. It just so happens 10 months after that rodeo Kinlee Capri was born! Kinlee wanted everyone to know that she was named after her dad’s rodeo camper, Capri. Sam was a gifted joker and teaser and he knew how to get Kinlee worked up, he never called her Kinlee instead he would call her “Child” like “Come here Child” or “Stop that Child.” And he used to call his mother in law Leslie, “Granny” because he knew it just irritated Kinlee, and she would always tell him “she’s a Mama not a Granny!” Kylee and Sam started in a relationship when he was 20 years old. Though the relationship didn’t work out, they experienced many firsts together: first love, first child and first home. When they purchased the home, Sam told Kylee, “this is Kinlee’s house, she’ll always have a home!” Kylee and her mom Leslie wanted to convey how generous and giving a father Sam was, whenever they asked for hockey fees or support, he would help without hesitation. Sam was a part of that family for years, and even the Grandfather upon hearing of Sam’s passing was very saddened because he too believed that Sam would be with us for a long time.
This past summer Sam returned home to Neekaneet, Maple Creek after years of being away. He spent time picking berries and canning with his family. He even delivered his pickings to Elders in the community. His nieces and nephews have some fond memories of this past summer filled with jokes and competitions to see who could stuff the most cucumbers into the jar. Sam had a knack for getting people in on his jokes, in person and on facebook. He would write on someone’s facebook wall, “Congratulations!” then message one of his cousins to back him up. And within minutes everyone was questioning who was pregnant or getting married. Even for myself, he used to chime in on my facebook antics. One day I wrote that we should be strong confident women and when we see a man with their fly undone, instead of embarrassing them by saying it out loud, we should walk over there and zip it up for them. Sam quickly commented, “ladies, if he’s your cousin, you go ahead and tell him!”
I apologize to my relatives, young and old, that I wasn’t able to share your stories today. I wanted to leave you with this one last thought. I mentioned earlier that my cousin was our 1st Covid-19 Warrior. Sam was the first in both communities to pass from the virus, and I believe that he’s given each of us a chance to survive this pandemic. He’s sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice; his life, to protect each and every one of us from the same fate. We have a renewed warranty on life, because he’s gone before us and told the Creator that I will take this virus with me but leave my friends and family with health and a long life. His mother, brother, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunties and uncles, all have an opportunity to fight this virus by taking care of ourselves. And that’s how we honor the ones that have passed: by taking care of ourselves, the ones they loved.
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