Holly Crichton

Al Side Oct 25, 2023

“I hear you’re looking for some horses to train. I will find you some.” These were the words that pulled me solidly into Barb and Al’s orbit in the spring of 2006.

My son, Matti, had been severely brain damaged in a MVA in January of 2004, and I was still trying to find a way to reconnect him with reality. I thought that since he had been raised with race horses, it might pull him out of his twilight zone if I immersed him in that world again. The problem was that I was paralyzed. My brain damaged son and I were not a good gamble for anyone looking for a race horse trainer.

True to his word, Al brought us three race horses. We spent that summer racing Barb and Al’s B-circuit horses in Grande Prairie. It was so much fun!

Four years later, in the fall of 2010, tragedy had struck my family again when Matti shot and killed his father. Barb and Al once again jumped into the fray with us. Their support was huge and helped enable me to hold things together.

In 2016, I released a memoir. Once again, Barb and Al were my champions. Supporting me throughout, and even sponsoring a memorable book launch at the Dinosaur Museum.

Our common interests in artwork and horse racing provided endless fodder for our visits.

Al’s and my latest conversations involved comparing notes on our experience with a radiologist, Dr. Verbeek, at the Grande Prairie cancer center. “He’ll look after you good.” Al told me. “He knows what he’s doing.”

Through the years I’ve benefited immeasurably from having Barb and Al in my life. The main benefit, though, is the determination they’ve always inspired in me to try to live up to the faith they’ve had in me. It has been an honour.