Friday Letter to my Kids-
Dear J, J, L and L,
This weekend marks year four of Big J’s big Harley ride with his hot woman for the annual “Bikers for Boobies” event.
Makes me laugh every time to say that out loud.
Makes me proud that you’re doing something to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research.
Makes me terrified that your charitable inclination involves a Harley.
I have nothing personally against Harley’s, or Honda’s or any other brand of motorcycle. I just get a little woozy when I think of people I love out on the road with other maniacal drivers who might not pay much attention to the loud roar and flash of chrome.
To quote your Grandma M from my teenage years:
“It’s not you I don’t trust, it’s everybody else.”
I’ve had a little experience with motorcycles in my past life, believe it or not. My first ever chance driving one on my own happened in our back yard. At eleven years old I may or may not have been a little too young for the attempt. The tiny Honda 50 was so cute and fun looking. “Nothing to it,” my Dad said.
I threw my leg over the seat, sat down and grasped the handlebars. My dad explained the gears, first, second, third. He talked about the clutch. He reminded me I had to pull in the clutch when I braked. I said, “Okay, I got it,” when I really didn’t understand about ninety percent of what he’d told me. Mostly what I heard was, “pull in the clutch when you want to brake.”
So I let out the clutch in first gear and the thing almost left me behind. I remember hearing yelling, with grass and dirt flying. I was so busy trying to figure out why pulling in the clutch wouldn’t stop the bike that I failed to turn. Next thing I know the bike and my flailing body launched off a foot high drop off into the garden and then across the garden down another small drop off. Luckily a chain link fence finally stopped the bike and what was left of my quivering body.
Dad ran over and caught the bike before it fell over on me and said, “Why didn’t you push on the brake?”
And that’s when I realized that braking involved more than simply pulling in the clutch. Ding, ding, ding!!! Light bulb!!! I needed to push the brake with my foot at the same time as pulling in the clutch.
My ego took a far bigger hit than my jostled and bounced around butt ever did.
You can bet that the next time Dad let me ride I paid attention to every single detail he told me. Luckily, I had other chances a year later and soon became a fairly brave rider when we’d take the bikes up to the mountains and ride around the dirt roads and wide trails. Those were some fun years buzzing around free and fast.
My dad went on several weekend long trail rides on various motorcycles. The trails he rode scared me even back then before I developed my fear of all things high and dangerous. (He also did a multi-day cattle drive on horseback once, but that’s a different story you’ll have to ask him to tell you about.)
Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know about your Grandpa M. He had said back then that when he retired he wanted to buy a Honda Goldwing and tour the country with Grandma. Sadly, that never happened. I think all us kids took the oomph out of his get-up-and-go. Not to mention, priorities change as life morphs and lengthens.
That crotch rocket you drove for a while, Big J, just about wore holes in my knees for how hard and often I prayed that you’d be safe out there.
When you and your newly christened Mrs. left the reception for your wedding night roaring away on that Harley, I thought my heart would bust wide open for joy and fear at the same time. I know you couldn’t hear me but I yelled, “where’s your helmets?” That would have spoiled the effect, I know.
I’m glad you’re living your life and taking measured chances and enjoying your youth. Don’t let my worries hold you back.
You other three, don’t be thinking I’m giving you permission to take up motorcycles. Not that it would matter what I thought at this point, right?
Have a fun ride this weekend, my sweet son, with your blonde bombshell wife on the back holding on tight. You’ll always be my little guy no matter how old you get, so I’ll always worry. I’ll also always be happy knowing you’re happy.
All my love,
p.s. Just wondering if you’ll wear sunscreen this year… ;)
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” ~ Edward Abbey ~~