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.
Its what Mums do. I hope she has torn a strip or two off him by now, for trying to teach a gran how to suck eggs.
What a great story. You have to realize, as a father, that your mother went through those emotional battles about things with you too. It takes enormous courage to let our loved ones go be independent and take risks. We have to know we've educated them enough to let them, be it a child or a parent.
This sounds as it it could be signs of sexism in you. Ask yourself these questions. If it had been your Dad/ Uncle/ older brother who hadn't ridden for years, would you have given him a grilling? Would you have demeaned their prior experience in such a way? Would you have dared to do a blog about it? As a now nearly grandmotherly, 50 year ex-biker, (I gave up when hubby had to because of his disability). I would be bloody fuming if any of my kids tried it on like that. That is such a condescending attitude. it would be unforgivable.
I just have to say that your reaction to her riding your bike & your relief that she came back OK is SO much like a parent's when your kids stays-over for the first time, or heads off to school.... so different & yet so much the same....
I love this...and I see this photo of you and your "badass motorcycle mama" and try to picture her making the best damn rice pudding ever.... epic!
Life is never without risks. As a mom, my kids have had to learn to let go....and let mom have her fun LOL!
A motorcycle momma....it doesn't get better than that! You HAD to let her ride - YES on so many levels! Good son!
Awesome! My mom's birthday is just a few days after mother's day. She just turned 83...a very young 83. I ride my own, she has always been a passenger, although she hasn't been one in many years. We/she have decided to take my Harley on an errand to deliver Ursula (age 86) some dessert as soon as the weather clears up. I'm thrilled...she hasn't been on one in years, and she has never been on mine. God grant us a safe, awesome ride!!
OMG...tears in my eyes. You, Dan, have empowered your mother and given her such validation! Your Mom rocks, and YOU rock. Wonderful story.
You know you just made me cry, right? ;-) That is so lovely that you let your mum ride your bike, not just because you have only just bought it, but also because you were also so scared for her! But her confidence will be sky high now :-) Best son ever!
You are awesome....you made her day! @ least you did something really nice for your mom...building back her self-esteem on the bike...you rock!
You're pretty easy going when it comes to your bike. My husband won't let ANYONE ride his bike let alone sit on it without asking permission. Shoot it took me 6 years to just sit on his seat without asking. Not because I was scared of him but, because his bike is his "first love" and I knew that and respected that. Now, I just throw my leg over and sit. I've never "drove" it because I don't know how. :) This picture made me smile. Definitely one for a photo album!
Tears from me too. Something about being more than a mom and a glimpse of our former fearless selves.
Ok. I don't know whether its the pregnancy or my love for motorcycles, but this story brought tears to my eyes (yes, I cried). You have an amazing mother and and for something that seems so small to us could be such a big thing for her is quite touching. Congratulations on he new bike by the way.
@Julie Garrett I looked at it like he was just being protective & it was coming from a place of love. I would have been the exact same way with both of my parents. i love them dearly & dont want anything to happen to them. they have had 2 bad motorcycle accidents one really bad one many years back when some stupid kids removed a stop sign my parents were on the bike together they ran the non existent stop sign & they got hit by a car, my mom has a huge scar on her knee from it & some issues with her back she was bed ridden for months& my dad had his knee replaced. But i totally see where your coming from, he did sound a bit over bearing
I don't know that Dan would have let his Dad, brother or uncle even ride. It was a great leap of faith for him to let me take it out. I realize that and am very grateful.
Kind of the same when we let our boys take the boat out for the first time without either my husband or I to supervise. No sexism, just worry about everyone's safety.