The Last Ride

Dave Madill : Dave has been entertaining us with his poetry since 2001.
Posted By Dave Madill : Dave has been entertaining us with his poetry since 2001. On 2024-05-18 20:35:22

Yesterday morning, my cell phone rang, and I smiled when I saw that it was Dave Madill. Dave and I had talked just the week before, and I told him I was coming to see him in Kelowna as soon as we went to print for this issue. Thinking he wanted to know when I would arrive, I answered with my standard, “How are you doing, you old bugger?” but my smile disappeared when his daughter Ruby answered with, “Not so good John. Dad passed away this morning.” It took a moment or two, but I finally managed a choked, “I am so sorry...”

Dave was our May 2001 Rig of the Month. Born and raised on a farm in southern Ontario, he was the consummate truck driver from a family of truck drivers. When he was nine, he drove the farm tractor and graduated to grain trucks at twelve. Dave cut his teeth on B-model Macks and Internationals and was more than comfortable stripping them down to the bare bones and putting them back together – something that came naturally to farm kids of the time.

When Dave turned 16, his Dad asked him to take a load of grain to Barrie, and as he was pulling out, he threw in a pop crate where the jump seat should have been and told him to get his license while there. Dave told me, “Back then, the police didn’t bother us if we stayed on the gravel roads, so that was how I drove into town. At that time, there were only two types of license: operator and chauffeur. You could get your chauffeur’s license if you took the test on anything with a standard transmission. The examiner was used to farm boys showing up in odd vehicles but wasn’t quite prepared for this seating arrangement. Grumbling, he rode that pop crate through the test and gave me my license. I finally got to drive home on the highway.”  

When Dave got out of school, he signed up with the Canadian Air Force as an aircraft mechanic. Then his first truck driving job was in a B61 Mack. Dave lived every trucker’s dream by marrying Betty, that pretty “waitress from the truck stop.” Betty was the perfect trucker’s wife, raising their two children, John and Ruby, while Dave was on the road providing for the family. She was under no illusions when she married Dave. Working in a truck stop had prepared her. She already knew what this life had in store for her.

Son John followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a driver himself, but tragically died about ten years ago. Betty and Dave had a full and loving life together until Betty passed two years ago. John and Betty’s ashes were spread at a lake near Kelowna, which will also be Dave’s final resting place.

Dave was a typical old-school driver who found it difficult to express his feelings openly, and one would have thought he was hard-core if it were not for his writings. His stories and poetry in Pro-Trucker showed the softer side of a very talented and thoughtful man. He wrote three books of poetry in a simple style I often call cowboy poetry. His stories in Pro-Trucker always had an underlying lesson he wanted to pass on to other drivers, and his sense of humour was a joy.

Dave touched many people with his writings, leaving them with a smile on their faces. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him or followed his writing.
Rest in Peace, old friend.

I would be amiss if, as a final farewell, I did not include this poem of Dave’s