Jerry is “Dad” to Sarah and Joel, and “Pappy” to a passel of grandchildren. And for over forty-five years, Jerry has been my, “friend who sticks closer than a brother,” (Proverbs 18:24). Jerry is an old hippie with a fear of being normal, but I’ve assured Jerry, time and time again, that he doesn’t have anything to worry about.
Jerry met his wife, Melanie (Mel), in the early seventies, while hitchhiking with his friend, Mike, from Ft. Wayne, Indiana to “Icthus”, an outdoor Christian music festival in Wilmore, Kentucky. Jerry reflected, “We caught a ride outside Lexington with a man who had a gun lying on the seat of his car. He asked us where we were headed and when we told him ‘to a Christian music festival’, he said, ‘I don’t know anything about anything like that.’ When he stopped at a red light, Mike and I spotted a bumper sticker on the car in front of us that read, “Honk if you love Jesus”, so we jumped out, ran up to the car and jumped in. It just so happened, that Mel and a group of friends from Portsmouth were heading to Icthus too.” Jerry smiled and added, “Mel was pretty cute”. The rest is his-story.
Jerry is a motorcycle enthusiast with a “need for speed”. His love for motorcycles is a family tradition. His father, “Ace”, owned an Indian dealership in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and a BSA dealership in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Jerry reflected, “I remember riding a Motoguzzi with a sidecar down the alley behind my dad’s garage. I was around fifteen then and I only weighed one-hundred-twenty pounds. The bike was really heavy and I couldn’t hold it up without the sidecar. I also rode other bikes that dad had, but I didn’t own a bike of my own until I moved to Portsmouth (age nineteen). I bought a Yamaha 100 dirt bike and rode a lot with my friend, Mike. When I moved to Van Wert a couple years later I bought a Suzuki T 500; it was a two-stroke. Later I bought a Suzuki GS1100E, which was the fastest street bike ever made at that time. It would do 140 miles an hour. I rode the wheels off that bike.”
Jerry’s enthusiasm for bikes and for riding persisted throughout the years and when Jerry was forty-five I received a call. Jerry confided, “I’ve always wondered if I could be good at racing, whether or not I have what it takes to be competitive? I’m thinking about going to racing school, but some people think I’m too old or that it’s too dangerous. What do you think?” I suggested, “You never know what you can do until you try. The question is, can you be satisfied without ever knowing?”
Well, Jerry took the plunge, he entered the adventure. He enrolled in racing school at Road Atlanta, trained for two days and raced on the third day. He affiliated with the Western-Eastern Racing Association (WERA) and after a couple seasons qualified for the Grand National Finals at Road Atlanta. Jerry finished seventh in the nation in the lightweight twin class. A couple years later Jerry and I stood beside the track at Road Atlanta and watched his son, Joel, age fifteen, place second in the nation.
Jerry and I reflected upon his decision, at the ripe old age of forty-five, to take the plunge. Again I suggested, “It just goes to show you that you never know what you can do until you try.” Then Jerry replied, “No Loren, it’s much more than that. You’ll never know who you are until you try.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), American physician, author, poet and inventor wrote, “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”
Kristy Sellars, a young Australian mother, dancer and creative multimedia artist placed second on “America’s Got Talent” this year, (2022). The judges were amazed and said they had never seen anything like her performance before. During an interview (YouTube) she explained, “These ideas are in my mind and they won’t leave me alone until I create them…If you want to do something bad enough you will find a way, you will find a way…I do this because it is my passion.”
Is there an idea in your mind that won’t leave you alone? For God’s sake, let’s not die with our music still in us, for we’ll never know who we are until we try.
“In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will prosper,” (Ecclesiastes 11:1-6).
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble .