Sad beautiful truths
Serendipity played it’s part yesterday. A series of events that lead me to an open invitation track day at Hampton Downs. With summer drawing to a close here in New Zealand, and my bike going back into storage due to overseas committments, “scratching” on a track day was the perfect way to end the season.
But it wasn’t the thrill of the 20 somethings on their sports bikes being left in my wake on my “tourer” that I enjoyed most. Nor the power wheelies leaving the apex on the hair-pin turns. Or even the circuit scrutineer on his prupose built track bike letting me know after the session he had trouble catching me. What I enjoyed most was the 60 something year old widower I befriended in the pits.
Unbeknownst to most, motorcyclists are a friendly, supportive and curious bunch. It’s the same reason we always wave to one another on the road, to uphold and respect the unwritten code. Maybe it was the thought of me in years to come, or that I’m always eager to learn, but this day I pulled up beside a grey and aged owner, kitted in his suit, supping on a cuppa tea.
With a purpose built Triumph track bike, a van full of spares and all the racing kit to see you run an entire season, I was surpised when he metioned he was heading out in the “slow” group. I know full well that age isn’t a limiting factor on the back of a motorcycle and have certainly been “schooled” for thinking so. I enquired as to why and he replied.
“This is the first time I have been back out on the track since my wifes’ death. I took a year and a half off to nurse her until her passing.”
He told me that she had cancer of the throat so was unable to speak. A hole cut in her larynx to allow an airway to breathe. He feed her directly via a tube to the stomach.
“She would be here now.” he said, “She would always come to my track meets, we travelled the country together, just us and these two wheels.”
As the day progressed, I would confirm his last session, how he was going. Was he finding his rhythm, or getting obstructed by other riders? We would exchange tips, entry and brake reference points, preferred lines… and then there was a silence.
For whatever reason, I don’t really know why, he decided to tell me the last written words his dying wife wrote.
“I love you. Kiss, kiss. Hug, hug”
He said he didn’t really think much of it at the time, replying of course “I love you too”. He regrets not properly saying goodbye as she passed later that evening.
A tear rolled down my cheek.
With his words on my mind, I headed out for my next session, eager in some sense to get back to my new friend.
He didn’t finish the remainder of the day. I guess he knew he really didn’t need to. Packing up early, we left each other with a handshake and a hat tip goodbye.
There’s something to be said for any being who loses their life partner, to stand up, to get up, to get out and do the things that brought them so much enjoyment in past.
These poignant reminders, that none of us have very long within this realm.
Personally, I’m choosing a life without fear nor regrets.