I now know that motorcycles have been a double edge sword for me. Some of my best memories have to do with motorcycles and now some of the worst. Danita and I were run down by a car on one, and my mother cleaned gravel out of me a number of times. I've hit a deer, outrun the police, and tossed them away more than I can remember. But on a good day, on a good ride, all the other problems of life just go away for a while, and that is the connection I had with Rhiannon.
She called to tell me I would be teaching her to drive a motorcycle, or we all know someone else would. She was bold like that and I told her she was too bold on several occasions. Sometime later she forwarded me an email her boss sent her, telling how some of her co-workers thought she was too outspoken and bold. He went on to explain he found her frankness refreshing, and she was to speak her mind as needed.
So, she came home with her SC learners permit and off we went. I borrowed an older 400 Honda. She did fine all day. Then, almost home, she bobbled a corner and rode off into the gravel. I waited and asked what happened. She whined, "I can't pull the clutch anymore." She spent the next two days on my Honda 1000 and did very well. I told of all the dangers out there: cars turning left, deer, racoons, stupid people, lions, tigers, and bears, and hoped for the best.
My brother, Guy and I told Rhia to get a little 250 and run that for a while. She would have none of that! It was a Yamaha R6 she proudly took home. By the time Derek, Danny, and I met her in the Smoky Mountains she had 3000 miles on it! So that became our connection. The best of times for father and daughter. Rhia rode hard, the type of riding that makes sport bikes fun. Always working at getting better. I expected there would be a phone call telling me of a crash. That she skinned herself up, hurt herself somehow, or heaven forbid, scratched her bike. Then I could do the fatherly thing. "I told you so. Slow down. Be more careful." But when the call came it was worse than that.
As my hair gets thinner I could blame it on both my daughters. Each one taking a crack at me on a regular basis. But as I look back now, it wasn't so bad.
And now to decide if I keep riding. Do I put my two grandsons on the small bikes I already have waiting for them, or do I stop?
I have decided to keep riding. Miranda and Shaun have said the boys will ride with me. And my hope is that it will make a connection as good as the one that I had with Rhiannon. No grandparent should bury a grandchild. No child should leave before their parent.