This writing of Stories from the Road will be somewhat ‘out of the box’ from past writings. My original topic for this story was going to be ‘Motorcycle Riding Group – What did he say?’. However, due to some events that affected me personally, I decided to break this writing up into three individual groups. First will be ‘Motorcycle Riding Groups – Is It for Me.’ The next two groups relate to how fast life can change. I found this to be true on a recent trip I made to Virginia. I affectionately call this one ‘Married with Children – 50 Golden Years’. Finally, the death of a friend during the same weekend at the same location resulted in me calling this story ’50 Golden Years – Death of a Friend’.

Motorcycle Riding Groups – Is It for Me. Kindred minds riding down the road with the wind in their hair, well most of them anyway, on the way to some destination. But was group riding for me?  After riding alone for a year, I decided to seek out other riders to make new friends and obtain additional riding knowledge from experienced riders. But was a riding group for me? My idea of a large group was three people. I am most happy by myself or with one other rider I know and trust. Nonetheless, I frequently found myself participating in group rides at various events. I decided the only hindrance to entering the new world of group riding was locating a complementary group to ride with. Finding a group which shared my interest was of the utmost importance. I had to decide if I wanted to cruise along and enjoy the scenery or carve up a mountain road. Or maybe a real adventure ride was more in line with my interest. Deciding on my interest would be made before searching for that ‘perfect’ group. Once the choices had been narrowed, I met with the riders involved with the group during a group-orchestrated event ride. If I felt comfortable around these great new people, then maybe a ‘signal’ was being sent this was the group for me to join. If not, I wouldn’t give up, get back out and try another one. There are endless possibilities for people of all creeds and personalities ride motorcycles. I knew soon I would find myself ‘belonging’ with the group suited to me.

Married with Children – 50 Golden Years. Nah, not Al Bundy and his clan, but a dear cousin I have held close to my heart. We literally grew up in the same rural Virginia house, but not at the same time. First me and then her and 3 other sisters. Last week I received this message in Messenger; ‘HI! This is Carolyn’s daughter. My sister and I are giving a surprise 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday, Aug 25th at 6 pm at Old Country Club Steakhouse. Hope you can come! Gayle and Kay will be there!’ Wait, Carolyn has children? She’s been married for 50 years? How old was she when she got married? (pause while I do the math) 18?!  Still somewhat in shock, I respond; ‘Hi Wendy. I would LOVE to come and meet all yall! Love all the Whitlow girls and would love to meet you and your sister too! Just send me an address of the restaurant, and I’ll be there.’ Just like that, I’m invited to my cousin’s 50th wedding anniversary. The golden event was being held at a restaurant I hadn’t been to in about 40 years! Wow, Carolyn has been married for 50 years! How’s that even possible in today’s world? Anyway, I was going to make the best of this opportunity to ride my bike to Virginia and celebrate this awesome event with my cousin! So, I inform my bride of the news, and she says; ‘GREAT I would love to meet your cousins!’ (imagine the sound of sliding tires) ‘You want to go?’ I slowly responded to her as visions of me on my bike and the breeze in my face faded away. (my wife doesn’t ride motorcycles) Don’t hate me now, I was surprised because my wife NEVER goes with me to Virginia. We had a great time!

50 Golden Years – Death of a Friend. Heading home after attending my cousin’s 50th wedding anniversary, my bride and I were talking about the great time we had when my cell phone rings. It was Donna. Ok, what did I leave at her house during our visit? ‘Hi Rick, this is Donna.’ she said.  Something was wrong. Her voice was low and solemn. ‘Hi, Donna. What’s wrong?’ I asked. ‘Bill passed away about 30 minutes ago.’ I didn’t respond. I had just left Donna’s house no more than an hour ago. Donna continued, ‘Liz, Maggie, and Will were at the house with him when I arrived. I told him you and Susan asked about him. He nodded his head in acknowledgment. I had left the dinner I brought him and started home when I got the call from Will that he had passed. I knew you would want to know. I’ll let you know tomorrow about the final arrangements. I would like for you to be an honorary pallbearer.’ ‘Sure thing.’ I responded. Bill had esophagus cancer. We all knew the time was near but didn’t expect it today. I drove in silence as memories of Bill flooded my head.

Life comes at us fast. In a matter of 24 hours, I went from celebrating my cousin’s 50th wedding anniversary to the sorrow of losing an old friend. Although my view of death is founded on my faith, it is still difficult for those of us left behind when a friend or loved one is taken from us. I’ve tried to never go to bed angry with a friend or loved one. If I thought about a person several times in a day, I would try to contact that person and check up on them. Don’t wait to tell someone you love them. Tomorrow is not promised to us. Rest easy my good friend. Rest easy.

 

Ride safe, ride often.

Rick

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