Going West to Find Joy

As she did each evening, Sue Moak sat on the front porch of her home in the rural Texas Hill Country. She and her husband, Rickie, had bought the land and built what they planned as their retirement home. But Rickie died suddenly at age 61, nearly two years before. 

“I looked down the long driveway and it finally set in,” Sue recalls. “I would never see Rickie driving down that driveway again.” 

Sue knew at that moment she needed to let go of the dream never fully realized at “Rockin’ RS Ranch,” as they dubbed their home. “I knew I had to leave when it became more painful to stay than it was to leave.” 

Sue had visited Colorado and considered moving there before, with Rickie. She decided moving to the state famous for its’ Rocky Mountains would not only offer her a new type of adventure, but also opportunities for her family to experience winter sports, mountains and majestic scenery when they would visit. 

Sue found a real estate agent, but on the day she was scheduled to sign the papers, fear, loss and regret for what could have been overwhelmed her. She backed out. “Every day, I would think of staying and it was just like a gut punch,” Sue said. “I tried to stay, but I just couldn’t.” 

After talking with her family again, she finally moved forward. 

Sue moved in January 2017, a little over two years after she lost Rickie. It wasn’t easy. Sue spent many days crying and missing the ranch. However, Sue, a gregarious and independent woman, made new friends in her new small town in Colorado. She volunteers for the local humane society and even adopted two cats, Heathcliff and Solar.  

Her family visits when they can and they’ve experienced all kinds of adventures together, such as skiing, snowboarding and river rafting. As a bonus, her sister and brother in law bought a condo they use part of the year in the same town. 

Even more special, Sue’s daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Justin and grandson, Bixby, all share a home with Sue now. Bixby and Sue have become especially close. Spending time with 8-year-old Bixby has been more fulfilling than anything she could have imagined in her retirement years. 

Life may not have turned out the way Sue imagined it a decade ago, but she has moved forward in living and finding joy in what she has. “I still miss the ranch, I will always miss the ranch,” Sue, now 71, says. “It’s not easy to leave your dreams behind. I knew I was always going to carry this sadness for Rickie and what we had, but I knew there had to be some joy in life left for me and I knew I had to go find my joy. It wasn’t going to find me.” 

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