It was noon on March 6 that I got the dreaded call. “Your mom is in the hospital. It appears she had a stroke.”
Once stabilized, my mom could not walk, swallow, play Rummikubes, or smile. She wanted to talk but could not reliably get out words. On the other hand, her cognitive functions were intact; she understood everything that was going on and everything that everyone around her said.
When it was clear she would not regain living the way she enjoyed it – independently – I took her to the family beach house for her last days. Upon awakening there the first morning, she said, clear as day, “This is heaven.”
The hospice nurses alerted me that, if we had anything left to say to her, we shouldn’t wait. I summoned the courage. “Mom, I have a favor to ask.” She looked at me a bit incredulously. “If you go to the other side, will you watch over me on my bike trips?” “Always,” she said.
She’s been in heaven for over a month now. She’s had plenty of time now to reacquaint with my wonderful stepdad, Frank, and with my brother, her son John, who she lost when he was 28. Maybe she’s even checked in with my dad. It’s time for a project for her.
My friend, David Goodrich, supplied one. He’s riding from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Austin, Texas, following oil flares in his ongoing project to document climate change from his bicycle seat. For two great reads written by David, see A Hole in the Wind and A Voyage Across an Ancient Ocean. His wife Connie is driving SAG (support and gear) from Santa Fe to Carlsbad. Connie and Dave kindly accepted my self-invitation to join them for the New Mexico portion. With Mom watching over me, I have to be careful to be careful.
I’ve only flown my bike with me a few times. Each time, it was excruciating to watch a bike mechanic disassemble it into dozens of pieces and pack them into a box for reassembly by a different mechanic at the destination. I decided that this was the time I’d try a Scicon (pronounced she’-con) bike bag, one in which the bike stays intact except for the wheels. In theory, I could pack my bike myself. I applied my stepdad’s method for flying a plane. Walk around and around it until you climb into it and fly away.
On my first morning in Santa Fe, my bike emerged from its cocoon.
Tomorrow morning, we head out into cold 20 mph headwinds. “Mom, are you ready?”
© 2021 Lynnea C Salvo