Chapel Hill, that beautiful community in North Carolina, is the home of my daughter Asila and her husband, David. It’s also the home of the University of North Carolina, and was one major destination on my first solo cross country ride in 1997.
Asila and David were newly engaged, and it was on this visit that I would meet his parents, Eileen and Steve, for the first time. I wanted everything to be just right. At home, I decided on the dress, shoes and jewelry I’d wear the evening we were going to dinner at the restaurant where David had proposed.
Packing space was even more limited in Big Red’s saddlebags because I anticipated passengers on several legs of my journey. I would be taking my extra helmet in one saddlebag. So, I mailed my dinner clothes before leaving home and hoped they would get there by the time I arrived.
Steve and Eileen were both educators, so with common careers, interests, and family values -- and loving each others’ child -- we had much to discuss. During one conversation, they had a number of questions about me and motorcycling. When they said they wanted to have a ride, I saw in their faces that they meant it. “Sure, we can do that,” I said.
Pride swelled in my heart, but so did humility and a bit of trepidation. I felt honored that they trusted me enough to want to climb on Big Red and take a spin. But it is a huge responsibility to have someone else’s lives in your care while riding a thousand pounds of machinery running on two 4-inch patches of rubber.
|Me with Eileen|
One after another, I gave them passenger instructions, “Mount from the left, put your foot here, sit easy in the saddle, and just go with the bike.” Then we struck out on the nearby route David suggested. It was perfect, not too long and with a few curves and turns.
As I steered Big Red onto the roadway, with treasured cargo seated behind me, I thought, I have my future in-law on this bike. Oh Lord, don’t let anything happen to them. But I proceeded as if it were an everyday occurrence. We talked and they sat back and enjoyed the ride while we communicated over the intercom system.
And at the dinner party? We enjoyed the superb restaurant, with its fine food and delightful ambience, and another evening of thoughtful conversation. It was fun to listen as our kids retold the story of the night they became engaged and to see the spot where the waiter had presented the desserts, among which was the diamond David had chosen for Asila.
This precious time together in Chapel Hill built a mutual respect among us parents and began the blending of our families.
~ xoA ~