My entire life, I have listened to the same handful of motorcycling stories again and again from my Mom.
The first story is about her gnarly motorcycle crash on her boyfriend’s bike when she was an older teenager. That led to a leg that is still scarred and mangled.
The next story is about her taking the motorcycle driving test at the DMV when she was younger. She whipped around and went crazy on her brother’s motorcycle before the instructor came out, and when she looked over, she was shocked to see the instructor already outside watching her. She asked when they were going to start the test, he said she had just done it.
The other story was about the time she was riding down the highway on her boyfriend’s motorcycle when a semi-truck driver she was passing made eye contact with her, snarled, and purposefully started coming into her lane on top of her. Apparently to try and murder her.
Let me remind you that these have always been stories to me, nothing else. I’ve never seen her ride a motorcycle. Heck, I’ve never even seen her stand anywhere close to a motorcycle.
Until, that is, I brought Delilah over for Sunday dinner this past week.
I parked my bike out on her driveway in the shade of her exterior garage and went in to help make Mother’s Day dinner for all the women-folk. When most of it was done and we were all standing around waiting, I invited Mom and my brother-in law Luis to come see my new ride.
Luis has lived and breathed motorcycles since he was like twelve years old or something crazy like that.
Mom, well, once upon a time, in a generation far, far away…
I told Luis to hop on and take it for a spin. He’d never ridden a brand new Harley, and there was a trail of saliva from the house to where he was currently standing. He eagerly waited to mount the bike and started demanding helmets, gloves, and keys.
Mom stood nearby, oohing and ahhing the thing. She mumbled “Can I…” then she trailed off. Then again, “do you think…” then she trailed off.
This is where the protective son had to step in. “Mom, how long has it been since you’ve ridden a motorcycle? Have you ever ridden one this big? This is a really heavy bike.” Etc. Etc. You get the point.
I wanted to scare her away from it, but with every question she became more bold about her answers.
I told her to sit on the bike. I was going to quiz her.
“What’s this?” I said pointing to the clutch lever.
“That’s the clutch. And this is the front brake. And this is the rear brake. And this is the throttle. And this is the gear shifter.”
She didn’t even have to think about any of it. And she was right about all of it.
I was feeling better, but still, I was uneasy. The last thing I wanted to do was put my mom in the hospital on Mother’s Day.
“Luis,” I said. “You live with Mom. You’ve let her ride your motorcycle. Can she handle this bike?”
He grinned and nodded. “Yeah, she did fine on mine.”
That was enough for me.
It wasn’t enough to feel completely good about it. And it wasn’t enough to fully trust that she would be okay on it. But it was enough that I felt comfortable taking the biggest freaking leap of faith in my entire life. I was going to let her ride Delilah.