Tuesday, January 11, 2005


I have been reading some recent posts on a motorcycle forum about women and their sex appeal if they ride, and it got me to thinking. Why do I ride? I read about how a woman is more appealing if she is riding for the love of the sport and not to just be noticed and that if she has mad skills you can tell her heart is in it. 

Well, I don’t ever claim to have mad skills, but I do ride for the love it. It is not important that I have the latest technology, the fastest bike or the most horsepower. I have never taken any of my bikes to the dyno. As a matter of fact, I like the older bikes, something that is not so common maybe even a classic. None of this matters because the ride is not a competition but for the pure joy of the act. 

You see, when I finally put that helmet on my head and mount my ride, I am alone with the machine in my control. I don’t have that control in many other aspects of my life. At work I answer to the boss, at home I cater to the needs of others. I am a single parent with several kids with many needs, the sole provider for my family and home, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an accountant, a notary, a volunteer. I wear many hats all of the time and try my best to help others as much as possible. 

When that helmet goes on, all else is shut off. No one is calling my cell phone because they need something yesterday. I can’t here anyone calling “mommy, I need….”. I am not late for any appointment. I am just me and I am free and alone. I can ride where I want, how I want, at the speed I want. Where I go is not even important. Just prior to getting on the bike if I was frustrated, I have a means to release that frustration, if I was overwhelmed it suddenly takes a back seat. All this because when the helmet is on and I am alone and free of all responsibilities and I have that certain sensation of flying through nature, controlled by no one, and I am smiling for one….me. I probably won’t ever drag a knee, I probably won’t ever attempt a stoppie. But when I ride I have a certain sense of freedom from the world, a sense of control of my own actions, I can smell the scents of summer, feel the sun on my back, and feel the wind and think…clearer than any other time since the clutter of life is not there. For most of these reasons, 90% of the time I ride alone. 

I have endured many hardships in my adult life all of which make me who I am today, and all the while friends tell me how they are amazed that I have a good attitude and how I am a genuinely happy person. The ability to have something in your life that gives you such joy, something to look forward to and time to be alone is truly the best therapy. 

After all is said and done….it doesn’t hurt when you stop at the beach and my long hair falls out the helmet and the posers are pleasantly surprised to see a woman. I sit on the wall along the beach and soak up a few sun-rays on my face before I must mount again and head back to reality. 

Monday, January 10, 2005

Remembering December 17th

Remembering December 17th

December 17……I am at work….so much to do. I have to get a lot done since it is almost the end of the year. Christmas…..Christmas is coming….have I finished the wrapping….don’t forget to get squash for James, he wants squash for his Christmas dinner. The phone rings and I reach for it…..instinctively I look at the caller ID….it’s a 947 number…..Lakeville. Lakeville?? …but it is not Grandma’s number….huh? Instinct takes over…I know what this is. The call I knew was coming but I don’t want to hear it. Hello…..its Mom, she is quiet and calm, “it’s all over…ummm, he passed this morning, please call your brother and sister, I can’t think now and I don’t know their cell numbers”. I will, of course I will, and I will leave work as soon as I can and get Betsy’s kids. Don’t worry about us Mom, do what you need to do today and don’t worry about all the kids, I will make sure everyone is picked up from sitters, off busses, from school etc.

I get into the car to headed home……it’s quiet. Too quiet, and the middle of the day, this is odd.

I decide to listen to the radio, and maybe I can get through this long drive if I am slightly distracted. I hit the power button and the radio begins at the opening verse of Freebird. I begin to sing the lyrics…” If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?, for I must be traveling on now, cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see”. I know these words are compiled to mean something completely different but my mind changes them to apply. Grandpa has left here and yes, I will always remember you. I keep loosing focus on the song and then coming back to the lyrics. “…if I stayed here with you….things just couldn’t be the same, cause I’m as free as a bird now…”. I realized at this time that this song now has a completely new meaning and memory for me now. Never again will I hear this song and not remember Grandpa. You see, he is as free as a bird now, free from the prison that his aging body had him in for the last few years. Up until today, when I thought of Grandpa, I thought of that old frail man who was living in a nursing home and suddenly I remember a man, free as a bird. A man who found joy in everything and everyone, who without fail saw the good and the beautiful everywhere. A man who truly enjoyed and appreciated all and could find joy in everything not limited to his family for which he watched grow with such joy but who would find the humor and appreciate even a television commercial or the petal of a flower through his camera lens. I suddenly hear the laughter that would roll from way down deep inside. I suddenly remember things that I have forgotten in the last few years like lemon squares on Sunday mornings in Lakeville, learning to walk in snowshoes in New Hampshire. The list of memories is endless and day by day gets longer and longer. Cutting Christmas trees in the woods, fishing in the lake, apple picking, watching squirrels from the breakfast table, a fish pond, photographs, his workshop in New Hampshire, trips to the candy store, long dinners simply to enjoy family conversation, jokes he could hardly finish without laughing, the smell of his pipe, how to start a fire with a magnifying glass, sledding, long walks around the circle, ever a kind word and “that’s just the way I like it”, always with his love by his side, but mostly that laughter, I can still hear that laughter. I find myself wishing that my children could share these wonderful memories but never will. He is free now, free as a bird, at least in my mind.

I did not listen to the radio again for a few days mostly due to the fact that the next few days turned out to be very busy and partly because this experience and this song brought me this message that I did not want to loose. But it happened again…..as we left the cemetery after the short but appropriate service I turned the radio on again as the silence was just too much and playing at that very moment was an old familiar song….Freebird. So there it is, our special song, Grandpa’s and mine. He is free and I will never forget.