Today is the day you give thanks to your old man and/or maybe you receive thanks as well. My old man passed away in December of 2013 after a long bout with Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s and while he never rode a motorcycle more than once, it became a subject of conversation he enjoyed speaking with me about.
I am the first and still only member of my family to ride. My father told me once in Cuba as a teenager, he jumped on his friend’s motorcycle, traveled about one-hundred feet in a wobbly line, hit a tree, and that was the beginning and end of his motorcycle riding experience. The Cuban culture does not have motorcycles at the top of their list as hobbies, and like a typical father, my old man was concerned about my safety. So, when I bought my dream motorcycle, a Honda Goldwing in 2005, 25th Anniversary edition, I did what every good son would do; I hid that fact from him.
Of course, eventually he entered the garage and saw my motorcycle. I made up a story on how a friend of mine was paying me to store in the garage.
A few months later, my friend is storing his 1200 Harley Davidson Sportster in the garage which was fine by me, because now I had two motorcycles to ride. Again, my father sees two motorcycles in the garage, and reverting back to the behavior of a 12 year old, I lied again, just like I would in high school when asked why did it seem there was less rum in the liquor cabinet.
Then my friend sold the Sportster to his friend, but it stayed in my garage, and my friend now stored his Harley Davidson Road King Peace Officer edition in my garage as well. You have any idea how cool it is that you just bought a motorcycle but have two more sitting in your garage that you can ride at any time? But, alas, came the question— “What is going on here? Which one is yours?” Dammit! I thought I had him fooled! I pointed to the Goldwing.
My father was old school which meant the father-son relationship was a strange combination of love, discipline, and intimidation. Depending on the situation, you would get one of the three.
For example, in his late seventies, I sometimes would leave my Golden Retriever with him and my mom. One day, he saw someone from the neighborhood, a man in his late thirties, throw small rocks at my dog from across the street because my dog was barking at him. My father stepped out with a baseball and stood in the middle of the street yelling at the guy, telling him to come over to where he was because he was going to kick his ass. That person refused, and from then on, he never walked in front of our house again, always going a block over.
That generation knows no fear and I’m aware of that. That is why I will not embarrass my father even after his passing because I do fear arriving at the pearly gates and as I stand before Saint Peter, my father steps out and says “I got this.” He pulls me by the ear into heaven and asks “what is wrong with you? Is that how I raised you?” But, back on earth, that was also his baby’s dog. Yeah, my old man always called me “baby” even as an adult. Not in public, but in private. He would greet me with a kiss on the cheek and say “hey baby.”
So, with three motorcycles in the garage, I’m ready to defend my position. Instead, he was intrigued by the concept of motorcycle riding. Every time he came over to visit, our conversations where about motorcycles. “Where have you gone? I saw on the news there was a toy run. Did you go? I saw so and so celebrity loves motorcycles. You know, Elvis and Steve McQueen loved to ride motorcycles.”
So that’s my dad and motorcycles. He never jumped on the back of the Goldwing for a quick ride, but he did enjoy entering the garage from time to time to check out the motorcycles. He was supportive even though I knew deep down inside, he wasn’t a fan of my riding. But, that’s what fathers are for. They guide us, discipline us, and when the time is right, they counsel and support us.
To all the fathers out there, a heartfelt Happy Father’s Day. And to my old man, until we meet again.