This is part five of a series about Jerry who departed this earth at age sixty-eight after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer. Jerry was an old hippie with a need for speed. Jerry delighted in turning others on to new things. Jerry explained, “When you find something good you want to share it”. Jerry also looked for and discovered the good in others. Jerry’s son, Joel, testified as we sat reminiscing at Jerry’s bedside the night Jerry departed, “Dad is the ultimate hype-man. If you’re feeling down and need to feel better about yourself, all you need to do is hang around dad for a while.” And Jerry’s cousin, Karen, from Tennessee, messaged me on Face Book, “Jerry’s love for his family and friends was endless.”
Jerry and I were perennially planning our next adventure. We whole-heartedly agreed that our most memorable adventures were our five days, seventeen-hundred-mile motorcycle road trip through seven southern states and our ten-day self-guided tour of Alaska, which we referred to as, “Jerry and Goren’s Big Adventure”.
I’ve only been seriously mad at Jerry on two occasions; and they both occurred on the last day of our motorcycle road trip. Jerry and I mounted our bikes early one crisp September morning in front of my house in Portsmouth, Ohio. Our goal was to arrive at my daughter’s home outside Memphis, Tennessee by nightfall. We traveled the back roads, the two-lane, “Blue Highways”, as much as possible. We arrived at my daughter, Mandy’s, in Olive Brach, Mississippi an hour or so after nightfall. That night, as we all sat around the kitchen table, Jerry insisted, “You have to ride ‘The Dragon.’” I insisted, “No I don’t!” Jerry replied, “But you’ll be glad you did.”
Motorsport enthusiasts from all over the world travel to “The Dragon”, to experience its challenging “318 curves in 11 miles”; and an average of 2.5 people die on that stretch of highway US 129, between Tennessee and North Carolina each year. “The Tree of Shame”, at “Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort”, is decorated with the pieces and parts of motorcycles that bit the dust. My resistance was fueled as Jerry pulled up YouTube clips of one brutal motorcycle crash after another. So, I think you will understand why this guy, who had never ridden a motorcycle until he was fifty, was more than a little reluctant to ride “The Dragon”.
Jerry and I spent the last night of our trip at his aunt Betty’s outside Knoxville, TN. Betty fixed us a wonderful southern breakfast, and we mounted our bikes and headed for home, or at least that’s what I thought. Jerry and I were stopped side-by-side at a red light. I knew the way home was to the left but I noticed that Jerry didn’t have his turn signal on. I looked over at Jerry and he didn’t say a word. As they say down south, Jerry was, “Grinning like a possum eating a sweet potato.” I thought, “Oh man, we’re heading to ‘The Dragon’”, and I was furious. I was actually sick at my stomach with dread. Nevertheless, when Jerry pulled away, I followed.
We completed the Dragon and we took a break at the Deals Gap Motorsport Resort. I purchased a T-shirt with “I Survived the Dragon” printed on the back. I admitted to Jerry, “I was seriously mad at you when you didn’t turn left at that intersection. You knew I didn’t want to ride ‘The Dragon’.” Jerry replied. “I could tell you were, but aren’t you glad you did?” I reluctantly and stubbornly agreed, “You’re right; I am”.
We donned our helmets, mounted our bikes and I looked over and asked Jerry, “Which one of these roads do we take to head towards home? Jerry smiled like a possum again and answered, “Neither”. He pointed his thumb backward and I exclaimed, “You have to be kidding me! I have to survive The Dragon again!” angry the second time.
Oswald Chambers wrote: “Always keep in contact with those books and those people that enlarge your horizon and make it possible for you to stretch yourself,” (“The Moral Foundations of Life”); and “We are not to be like jelly-fish…Beware of squatting before God instead of putting up a glorious fight so that you may lay hold of His strength,” (My Utmost for His Highest, December 16).
The Apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé, Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called….(1 Timothy 6:12); “Do not neglect the gift that is in you…Meditate on these things, give yourself entirely to them, that your progress will be evident to all…Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you,” (1 Timothy 4: 14-16). In the words of my departed friend and brother in Christ Jesus, Jerry, “You’ll be glad you did.”
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 .