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Pink Blankie

It’s 1989 and we are almost halfway across the country by pedal power. Our group of three hundred bicyclers has fund-raised a minimum of five thousand dollars each to support the American Lung Association for the opportunity to bike from Seattle to Atlantic City. It is one of the first major fund raisers of its kind. I’m thoroughly enjoying the pedaling, geography and have slowly got into the socializing. A camp site, sag wagon, gear truck, port-a-potties, breakfast and dinner each day make the nomadic experience not so sad, bad or mad and mostly glad.
 
We’re having our evening eats outside, as usual, and I’m sitting amongst a group of people new to me. I break the ice and talk about one rider who has fallen off his bike several times. My monologue meanders on through the obvious personal dangers as a result of such poor balance, to the hazards in relationship to other riders, as well as to motorists. I sense a social discomfort and out speaks the guy sitting next to me, as to - it is he! He is the wounded warrior that I worry about, and he has the road rashes to proudly prove it! Appalled at his gall, I question him as to whether he is married, he retorts affirmatively. Pissed at this, I query as to kids, and three young ones, it is. I make a stand, make him take the stand and demand that he understand the need for reprimand. The moment is pregnant with possibilities and just prior to pushing to produce a new birth, outbursts – “I have a two-person tandem bike that I can arrange to have at tomorrow’s stop, as that is where I make my home!” The pretty lady ponders her profound proposition as the potential pugilists peer into each other’s pupils. The ice melts, turns up to steam and we realize that we are a tandem team. So, the dude duo continues the trek together in tandem and complete the miles with smiles and safety. Only once did we hit a bump, look like chumps and almost took our lumps. A quick breath stop under the wisdom of a willow tree and my threat to duct tape his hands and feet to our two-wheeler, remedied his need to taxi with hands and feet free.
 
The trek was a swan song for Steve and I. For my backseat biking buddy, it was his last athletic hurrah before his rapidly regressing neurological disorder took away his physical freedom and within a few years, his life here. For me, it was my last adventure B.C. (before children), and a prep for parenting - the greatest adventure of them all. My wife at that time, Mary, and I adopted the first of our three children, Jocelyn, a year later. To our surprise, Steve had heard of our new family formation, and promptly posted a pink blankie present to surround our eight-pounder. Jocelyn promptly possessed the pink ala her own pinkie, and in a way that was far and away a way to say, hey, we may be of the same ray in some way.
 
Today, as Jocelyn finishes up her galisthenics here at her daddy’s gym, I ask of her precious pink pal. Immediately, my daughter gets to her baby belly breath and beams about her bed buddy. She assures me that her mom keeps it and those memories stowed at her home. Now, in her adult life, Jocelyn beds with her beau and their blankies, creating new memories, while having gratefulness to blankies of all colors, shapes and sizes. Here’s thanks to the people who present and represent the love that surrounds us all, especially my pedaling pal, Steve, and all who have passed on their presence through their presents. May a reason for the gifts of this season be surrounded with Steve’s spirit and blankies.