A Snowy Motorcycle Ride

We are in a deep freeze. For a stretch of a few days our temperature here in Iowa have not wandered above zero degrees Fahrenheit. I know my friends in California boast of warm weather there still. Plus recreational marijuana is now legal there too. It’s not fair!

There was even one day last week, that our actual temperature in Des Moines was colder (-18 F or -27.8 C) than that same day in Antarctica (-5 F or -20.6 C). This is not considering the wind chill factor that can be as cold as -30 to -50 F. I’m expecting Emperor Penguins to arrive in my front yard anytime now.


Yet few days ago, there was somebody who rode a motorcycle on the road in this dangerously frigid condition. Not a snowmobile, but a motorcycle. I know that seems all madness. But if I tell you the reason why he did it, you will be convinced that it was rather a valiant and selfless act.

We have somebody in our church who likes to ride motorcycles. What he owns is a big maroon Harley-Davidson trike. We were told that he rode it to many places, far and near. He even goes to work on it, and I have seen him come to church on this trike.

Recently his health declined and he became more sickly. His kidneys failed, and he started dialysis three times a week. Yet he continued to ride his trike despite all of his illness, and he even rode it to go to his dialysis treatments.

Few days before Christmas, he got hospitalized. Then with one complication after another, sadly to say, he died a few days later.

So earlier this week, we attended his memorial service that was held in our church. The temperature that day was negative 12 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill factor of 30 below zero. It snowed the night before and into early morning, so there’s freshly fallen snow on the ground. Even though it was bitterly cold that morning, what was more palpable was the love and warmth of the family and friends who attended that memorial.

To honor this fallen brother, they brought his trike to his memorial service. And yes, somebody rode it from this departed brother’s home and into the church, in this Antarctica-like condition!

So there it was, the Harley-Davidson trike, parked at the entrance of the church. It was positioned near the door, waiting like a sentinel. Perhaps it’s waiting for its rider for a final ride into the sunset.

Breath-taking Sweet Ride

The other day I saw a patient of mine whom I have been following for sometime now in our practice. He is in his early 70’s, but his health is rapidly declining. He has severe COPD and has been on portable oxygen for a couple of years now.

He showed up in our clinic with his new motorized scooter. He said that with his severe shortness of breath and debility, his mobility has suffered enough that he got himself a power wheelchair so he can still move around without running out of breath.

There are hundreds of models of electric scooters and wheelchairs to choose from. There are lighter and more portable models to the heavy-duty but more bulky types. Those heavy ones weigh like a ton but almost impossible to tip over. There are even models that claims they are “sport” version. I don’t know if they have all-terrain model as well. Can you imagine off-roading with a wheelchair?

The price ranges from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars depending on the built and model. Though medical insurance will pay all or part of the cost depending on coverage and eligibility.

Anyway, when I asked my patient how he was liking his new ride, he said that it was definitely useful but he feels it was not “fast” enough.

Most power wheelchairs has a top speed of 5 miles per hour, but there are models that can go as fast as almost 12 miles per hour. Of course there may be unprescribed soup-up version that may go faster, but I’m sure safety will be an issue, unless they equip it with air bags and anti-lock brakes besides the standard seat belt.

Back to my patient, I asked him what kind of car does he drive, since I sensed that he has the need for speed, even though he can hardly move around anymore.

He then told me he drives a Corvette.  But that’s not all.

He also said that he collects Corvettes. He has 4 of them! The oldest one he has is a 1976 Stingray. I guess that explains it much.

He also told me that he used to ride motorcycles when he was still able, and has a couple of Harley Davidson sitting in his garage. I asked him if his wife is jealous of his collection, but he said she has a “sweet” Porsche of her own.

I know his power wheelchair cannot fit in the Corvette or Porsche, so they must have another vehicle that can haul it along. Maybe they have a custom-made rocket-powered monster truck, but I stopped asking.

He though admits he sorely miss taking out his cars for a spin, as nowadays he can barely drive.

It’s just awful to know that he has all these sweet and fast rides, and I’m sure he had lots of fun with them during his heyday, but now he is relegated to his wheelchair and can only go 5 miles per hour. Once life was so fast that it takes his breath away, now life came down to a crawl, and yet his breath is still being taken away so slowly and painfully.

O the sad reality of life.

Life is like a breath. Most of the time we don’t think of it much until the time we’re running out of it. May we value each moment of this life.

As I send him back to the front desk to make a follow-up appointment with me in a few months, after I was done examining him, I told him that maybe he should call Corvette’s headquarters, and perhaps request them to custom fashion a 650-horsepower supercharged wheelchair just for him.

Maybe I should get one for my own. A Corvette, not a wheelchair.  But on second thought, I am not really a Corvette kind of guy.

Maybe a Harley?