I looked up the hill on the road to see a familiar figure trudging down the hill towards me. An old man, bundled up against the late November chill, he was at home in a heavy flannel jacket under green coveralls, red and black checkered wool cap with ear flaps down, and work boots.
On what would be my parents’ next to last year on their cherished farm, I’d stopped for the night before heading to Georgia to spend American Thanksgiving with my adopted family, the Sunde’s.
As always, dad had cleared a space in the barn for my motorcycle and opened the massive door to let me ride in. Although his car always had priority parking in its own garage, he’d shuffle vehicles and farm equipment to make room for my bike in the barn.
The next morning we went out bright and early so dad could open that door to let me out and I could be on my way.
Expecting my bike to fire up as always, I was disappointed to find the battery had chosen that night to die. It was getting old, I’d had my electric jacket and gloves on high during the trip down and it had just spent the night in a cold barn, so it was understandable. Done.
Always the optimist, I figured a bump start was the easiest and best first option. Loaded for cold-weather travel, the bike was too heavy to push, although an 84-year-old man had to be dissuaded from trying.
After stripping it down and giving it a few futile attempts in the long driveway, I was sure if I could get it to the end of the driveway, which accessed the road at the top of a hill, there was a downhill stretch long enough for me to get up a good head of steam; enough to get it started. Dad helped push me out to the road and stood guard, watching for traffic.
I was wrong. Anticipating it would start, I’d loaded it again so I could keep going. But there I sat at the bottom of the hill. And there came dad down the hill to help. It’s a sight that’s indelibly etched in my memory.
He offered to get the tractor to boost or tow or whatever he could do. As we were deliberating, two guys in a truck carrying a generator stopped, boosted the battery, and gave it enough of a charge to get me to Clare’s Cycle where I could get a replacement.
Dad couldn’t believe the good fortune and was teary-eyed by the kindness of strangers.
The whole experience was incredibly touching. It’s been a hard life on the farm but he was always there to lend a hand to family or strangers. Even better if it involved his Ford tractor.
He’ll still do whatever he can to help me with my motorcycle (or anything else). Except now that they’ve moved to a home with only a single car garage, I no longer get preferred parking.
Thank you dad.