My name is Torey Rush. I have contacted you before about my son Chesney.
Chesney was my 9 year old country boy who was tragically killed January 17, 2017. Chesney, his brother Dakota, and his daddy had been building a duck blind by hand. They were so proud they built it and they couldn’t wait to take it down by our pond and hunt for geese. That fateful afternoon, his daddy called the house to see if Chesney would go with him to set it down on the pond bank. I quickly helped him get his hoodie on, and sent him out the door. I watched him through our kitchen windows as he pulled on his muck boots and walked down the driveway to his dad. I had no idea that would be the last time I ever saw my baby. He got into the tractor with his dad, and sat the blind on the bank, as they were turning to come home, something started to go wrong. The door unexpectedly came open as the tractor fell to its side off the pond bank. My baby had been trapped underneath… His story while short has more love, adventure, and memories than most people do in their lifetime. His death is a chapter that I felt I had to tell you.
But there is so much more to his story than that one terrible afternoon. Chesney loved his farm. I’d like to think he was born with dirt in his boots, and grease on his hands. My little boy was made of tractor pulls, rodeos, four wheelers, and tools. He understood and appreciated hard work. Life on the farm starts early and ends late, and he didn’t miss any of it. Mud didn’t matter to him, and chores never felt like work. He wasn’t afraid to wear his farm clothes in public. He wore the dirt, holes, and stains like badges of honor. I could always tell how much fun he had each day by how dirty his clothes were. The dirtier they were, the better day he had. He loved playing outside. He would only stop to wave at every neighbor that drove by. He always had a farmer’s tan and dirty fingernails. He loved hot dog roasts and hayrides, working cows, and overalls. He loved showing his livestock at all the local county fairs. In fact he had been doing it since he was 3 years old! He and Dakota took care of the animals on their own. My husband taught them very early on to earn anything they might win, and win they did. They both have many ribbons and trophies. Chesney has won Grand Champion, Reserve Champion, and many showmanship awards. He won everyone over with his beautiful smile. No matter what was going on in the show ring, he never lost his smile. Chesney loved Jesus and country music. Especially Luke Bryan. In fact, he even named his summer 2015 bottle calf “Luke Bryan. ” They had a great summer together winning many awards. He continued to take care of that bottle calf all winter and in summer 2016 that little bottle calf had become a 1400 pound steer. Chesney was never afraid to show him. I think they had a special bond. I had no way of knowing that would be his first and last big steer. I was so proud of him. He handed himself like a pro. He won with his confidence, skill, and his heart. He swam in his grandpa’s creek, and ran barefoot outside. This farm some would call the middle of nowhere, he called the center of his world. Living in a small town didn’t make his life small. Others may have more birthdays, but no one will ever outlive Chesney. He lived life like somebody left the gate open. Free, happy, unconcerned with the boundaries of life. We tried to teach him what life was really about, but I think he was teaching us instead. He knew that farming was a profession of hope. Hope in the future.
Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” Chesney planted so many seeds of hope, not only in my life, but in everyone around him lives as well. My little hazel eyed boy was the definition of country. Respectful, hard working, loved his Mama, and never treated anyone like a stranger, but like family. Country music was such a big part of his life as well. His favorite songs tell a story about his life. He loved songs about farming, big black jacked up trucks, small towns and corn fields. He was the ultimate Luke Bryan fan. His songs went into Chesney’s ears, and straight to his heart. They were his anthems. When he shot his first deer he couldn’t stop singing Huntin’ Fishin’ Lovin’ Everyday. If I close my eyes in the silence of the night I can still hear him singing. If I had known I would never hear it again I would have recorded every word. When we get into our truck there is always Luke Bryan on our radio. His songs help me feel connected to Chesney. Almost as if the songs remember driving with the windows down hauling in hay blaring “Kick the Dust Up,” or dancing like no one was watching to “That’s my Kind of Night.” He was such a fan of Luke, that we even played “Huntin’ Fishin’ Lovin’ Everyday” at his funeral because that song is Chesney. He absolutely loved everyday. I just wish he had gotten more days to love.