At the age of 72 my Dad was still riding his motorcycle. He could not ride all the way across country any more because of his health, but he still rode the Eastern side of the US. The last week of July was supposed to be my yearly motorcycle vacation. This year was going to be special because my oldest son and dad were going to be joining me. But it didn’t happen. Kenny and I headed up a day early because we had to drop my grandson, Gavin, back off with his mom. We were taking turns riding and trailering our bikes. I rode the first day while Kenny and Gavin were in Ole Blue (my pick-up). The second day, we loaded my bike on the trailer and Kenny was riding his bike. I had routed up across some really cool roads to ride through Tennessee since this was Kenny’s first really big ride. Dad and I talked several time during the second day about where we were going to stop and when he was going to be heading out the next morning. The last time I talked to him was a little after noon and he said he would be leaving around 0600 Friday morning. I told him that we would be stopping in Columbus, TN for the night and would be riding around Nashville and up into Kentucky in that same area. We talked about cool jackets and hydration vest since the lady at the Harley shop in Southhaven, MS said the no one believes her about the benefits of them. He was planning on bringing a couple up so that Kenny would have one of each and it would make the riding in the heat a little easier. When I ended the call we were both excited about our week of riding together.
Just north of Shiloh, TN Kenny needed to take a little break and as we stopped, my phone rang…it was my brother, Bert. There was no concern in his voice and he seemed rather calm as he asked me if I was driving. After I told him no, he told me that our Aunt Sandra had called him. Dad was in a motorcycle accident. some one had called him and said that Dad was incoherent and they were taking him to the Cartersville, GA hospital. I told him that we would get Kenny’s bike loaded in the back of Ole Blue, head toward Georgia and I would see what I could find out. The next town we came to was Waynesboro, TN. We pulled into a big parking lot and Kenny asked the guys at a tire shop if they could jack up the nose of the U-Haul trailer while we dropped it and got his bike in the bed of the pick-up. These guys went out of their way to give us a hand in getting everything loaded up and offered their prayers for Dad as we drove off.
It was around midnight when we got to the hospital. We had to go by Dad’s house to drop the trailer first. My Uncle Buddy was the only person in the ICU waiting room and he looked tired. He didn’t have any new news but took me back to see Dad. That was one of the hardest things I have ever done & one of the worst things I have ever seen. Dad laying in that hospital bed with all sorts of monitors and tubes attached. The one that I can’t seem to get out of my minds eye is the one attached to the top of Dad’s head. He had a brain bleed and it was there to measure the pressure on his brain. Up until this point, I had held a little hope that he would recover from this. He has before. He has had other motorcycle accidents and was able to walk away from them with just a few broken bones. But seeing him like this…I knew…I just knew that this time was different.
I am not sure I can put into words what I felt or what was going through my head. I was doing my best to not break down and cry. I had to be strong. I knew if I broke down that it would make it real. I didn’t want this to be real. I wanted him to get up, give me a hug and us ride to Kentucky for our vacation together. This is not what we were supposed to be doing. We were supposed to be riding in Kentucky this week. We had talked about it several times. We both had looked at what would be great roads to ride. He even had talked to best riding friends, Charlie & Sam, about the area. We had talked several times about where we were going to camp. He was not supposed to be laying in this damn hospital bed. Why did he decide to leave early?! WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!
Uncle Buddy talked to Dad’s nurse and found out that the neurosurgeon was going to be coming back to talk to me soon. I sat there in the waiting room trying to figure out how Dad could have “slammed” into the back of a pick-up truck as I waited for her to come talk to me. Nothing made sense. I know how Dad rides, I have ridden lots of miles with him. The camper trailer was not at his house when I got there, so I knew he was headed to Kentucky. I know that trailer is really heavy. He had told me several times that he was thinking about giving it to me and buying a new one. Then a few days or weeks later he would tell me that he didn’t want me pulling it because it was so heavy and that it was just to much for me to stop with my bike. So I wondered how much did it weight? Was it why Dad couldn’t stop? What about this damn pick-up he hit? Why did they stop so suddenly? All I had was questions…and not one answer. This could not be happening! At least he was riding.