Hello gentle readers,
Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve reached out, but it’s been a long and winding road as the song says.
Not many, if any, of you know the back story of my bike ride. I took off riding Baja last spring with the intention of riding all the way to the tip of South America. Funny thing about life…it gets in the way of livin’. I had made it to La Paz, Mexico last spring when I got an email from my Mom and her husband Gene. Gene had been diagnosed with cancer…and it didn’t sound too good. I asked them if I needed to catch a flight home. They assured me that I should continue my journey (after all, who knows when I’d be able to do this again?).
I had seen Gene in April at our family’s reunion for Mom’s birthday in April in Spokane. At the time several of us commented on how run down Gene looked…had we only know his body was battling the cancer within…so when I got this email about the cancer I wasn’t shocked, but I was damned concerned.
I admit it, I’m a Momma’s boy! My Mom loved Gene and that’s always been enough for me. If Mom loved Gene, then so did I. He made Mom feel good about living and that’s enough for me. So, to hear he was battling the big “C’ caught my attention.
I continued the bike ride till I got to Culiacan where Rosa’s family met me with open arms (and I’ll always be grateful for their love), but I knew I needed to get back to the states. Rosa and I reconnected and shortly thereafter Dom, Pedro and I parted ways and I caught a flight back to the states. I stayed in Vegas a couple of months before taking off from the Bay area on my new bike to Tonasket. I had a wonderful ride. I spent several weeks with Mom and Gene. It was funny though…when I first got to their house I could feel from Gene that I was the family member who was going to overstay his welcome. Thankfully it didn’t take too long for the two of us to gang up on Mom. We saw things eye-to-eye and I was a welcome addition. I got to stay till Oct when I drove the Blue Ru (the POS) back to Vegas.
I stayed in Vegas till Dec. I told Rosa I intended on staying with Mom and Gene till New Years. I flew to Spokane and had a good time with family even though we spent Christmas Eve with Gene in the emergency room in Tonasket and Wenatchee. Come to think of it, we spent the better part of Christmas week in the hospital in Wenatchee while they poked and prodded Gene. Shortly before New Years Eve they released Gene to our care and custody back in Tonasket. Gene seemed to be feeling better than he had in a while, so with their assurances I took off back for Vegas.
I spent New Year’s Eve through Feb in Vegas with Rosa. We rode our bicycles nearly every day (thank God our insurance replaced Rosa’s bike with a better than original bike!).
Rosa and I rode the bike trail near Lake Mead and it was mid-February when I got the call from Leona. We had just finished our daily 12-20 mile ride and I was putting the bikes on top of the Blue Ru for the trip home when I got the phone call. Leona was calling for Mom. Mom couldn’t talk on the phone or she would burst into tears….that was when I knew there was a big problem.
Gene’s cancer had raised its ugly head earlier in the month and I knew he was going in for some radiation therapy and at the same time Mom was having her second total knee replacement. I had previously asked Mom if she wanted me to come home to help out, now, those of you who know Mom won’t be surprised to hear that she turned down the offer. However, at this point Mom realized she needed some support. I told Leona to let her know I’d be on the road in two days time.
Two days later I was on the road headed north. I took more than a few things since I had no idea how long I was going to be gone. I was about 100 miles north of Vegas when Vicki (Gene’s daughter) called me in tears. She and Gene had been in Wenatchee where Gene was supposed to begin radiation therapy to help cope with the pain. Unfortunately his cancer has progressed way beyond the point where it would do any good. They advised to bring him home for in-home hospice care. I called big brother Greg and like the super brother/son he is he headed for home (very few of you know how much this meant to me). He stayed till they got Gene settled in. The next day hospice care gave them the bad news…Gene had 72 hours…what do you say other than “hang in there I’m on my way”?? Gene actually hung in for 10 days, That time was a bit of a blur. Lots of family and friends coming and going. It’s with a heavy heart to recall Gene passing away on March 1st. I will say he was fortunate to have those who loved him by his side. Selfishly I got to see the importance of family during a time of crisis.
The photo above is a gathering of family and friends having dinner sharing memories of Gene after he passed. Usually this would have been a memorable evening…and come to think of it, it was. Six out of the group got food poisoning! Thank God I wasn’t one of them…pansies!!
It wasn’t long after I realized I needed to move back to the farm to help out Mom. She’s got damn little business running this place on her own. Oddly enough I’m in a position to help out.
Rosa and I talked. It wasn’t the best thing, but it was the needed thing. I drove my brother Wes’ pickup to Vegas to haul home what little remained in Vegas. Three days down, a few days there (two incredibly good days with Rosa) and three days back to Washington. It took a few days more to get from Spokane back to Tonasket, but that’s another post….ah well….