Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Boy and His Bike

It was probably 1973ish when I got the ten speed Schwinn that would be my wheels for the next four years or so. It was that period in time when everybody was getting the 10 speeds with the handlebars that curved around like rams' horns. I hated them and insisted on a regular old handlebar. Besides, I'd have looked like crap all hunched over like one of those skinny little bike racer types.

That bike took me everywhere I cared to go and I probably rode as many miles on it as I've ridden the scooters. My friends and I took relatively long bike hikes along some of the same roads that I haunt with regularity now when I go out for a spin with nowhere in particular to go. It was more than just a bike. Like the BV is now, it was a friend.

Life went on after I got my driver's license, but the old bike got relegated to dad's basement where it spent the past 30 some years hanging from the joists. He asked me many times through the years when I was going to get rid of it. I pretended not to hear. Though I had no intentions of riding it, parting with it wasn't something I wanted to do. After a cousin's husband died from a massive heart attack while riding his bike after dinner one evening I knew I'd never ride that Schwinn again, but I'm a ridiculous sentimentalist and wanted to keep it around.

Since dad was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago, whole paradigms have shifted. I'm confronted with my own mortality and I realize that I can't cling to childhood with as much tenacity as I once did. On Saturday dad, my sister, and I took my bike, and hers, to the city garage. We left them there hoping that some kind hearted DPW guy might shuffle them to a spot from where they might end up in the hands of appreciative kids who might give them a good home.

It wasn't so long ago that I used to scoff at old folks who'd sell most of their possessions and their homes to take up residence in some small apartment into which they could fit only the bare necessities. I look at them now not with a prickly and troubling disdain, but perhaps with some degree of envy.

I asked my daughters some time ago with my tongue partially in cheek to select for me, when the time comes, a nursing home that has high speed internet service and a food service that will bring you as much as you want at every meal. My tongue's not so fully planted against my cheek now.

I'm not ready to retire. Not even if I had the opportunity right now to do so would I take it. I love what I do and I have things to accomplish yet. But I know more than ever before what's important and what's not. I'll find my grip on other things once treasured loosening and letting go as the years go on.

I'm lucky to find myself holding on again to other things from my past once so dear and precious come round again into my life as the greatest of gifts. Only they're not things at all, but persons. Maybe that's the wisdom that never came with the teeth that share the name - it's not what you have that makes you who you are - it's who you have. I am blessed with my "who's." Nothing else really matters, no matter how many gears it has - even it's in your favorite color.

1 comment:

kz1000st said...

My 83 year old dad still finds time to get out on his bicycle when he's not riding his ZR-750 Kawasaki. Bicycles are good low impact exercise and let you see things at a much slower pace.