Uneasy Rider


I rode my dad’s bike for the first time today.

There was a hiccup or two – primarily involving a very understanding neighbor’s mailbox – but, for the most part, it felt just like I thought it would.

Exhilarating. Sad. Spiritual.

Honestly, when I was riding it, I could only think of how I was going to keep that beast level and on the road. But when I got off, a wave of emotion rolled over me and I struggled to categorize how I was feeling. Was it guilt at riding my dad’s beloved bike? No, that wasn’t it – my dad was a generous guy and, if he had a great experience, he tended to to want to share that with people. Was it sadness at the memory of my dad in hospital, when he was no longer able to enjoy riding? Yeah, there was a touch of that, but that wasn’t the dominant emotion. Or could it have been regret that we never got to go on a ride together, roaring down a country road like Captain America and Billy from “Easy Rider” (or, from my formative years, Ponch and John from “CHiPs)? That’s closer, but still not accurate because, in all honesty, I didn’t feel alone when I finally eased it onto the road. My dad, in some way or another, was with me on that first ride.

If his soul is anywhere other than some common understanding of Heaven or an afterlife, it is absolutely attached to that motorcycle. I felt it. I felt HIM – and not in some woo-woo spiritual way, nor in some creepy Hamlet’s ghost kind of way, but in the sense that his hand somehow still guided that bike until I felt comfortable enough to take it under my own control, just like we did 32 years ago when I was learning how to ride a bicycle. He guided, then let go.

And, just like when I was 5, he let me hit that mailbox. Otherwise, how would I have learned not to?


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