Yes, this post is long overdue and there’s another one on the burner now, but a lot of excitement has ensued so forgive the delay if you please.
After my Dad’s birthday and some brain storming, I finally found a trailer suitable for my purposes. I actually drove 1.5 hours on an ice and snow day to look at it and make the deal. Following that I was able to borrow my cousin’s truck to go pick it up and take it back to Dad’s. I contacted my son because he was between jobs and he was able to come to Georgia for a week to help start the build out project. It seems like I did a lot of running for materials and parts while Dad managed and Nathan did a great deal of the labor.
With the trailer work during the day and then myself being tired and having some work to do each night, I felt as if I didn’t have the greatest visit with my son. It wasn’t a bad visit; I just wish we had gotten to do more. It was setup as a working vacation but still, I really enjoy hanging out with my son.
On Friday before he left we were able to go to dinner with Jessica from Nailmaille. She was in Atlanta for a conference with her full-time job. Nathan and I picked up Jessica at her hotel in Atlanta and then drove to Vortex for dinner. We had a very nice visit and we stretched it as long as we could. Jessica had to rise early for her conference and Nathan and I had to rise early to get him to the airport. We discussed a lot of plans for their sponsorship of The B.R.O.A.D. in 2014, my getting back on the road, and a bunch of random personal catching up. It had been a busy and productive week. I was tickled to see Jessica and ever so thankful for Nathan’s help on the trailer.
During the next week I was able to find black milk crates on Craigslist for a bed support / storage project that I wanted to do in my trailer. It was a really nice day and though it was a two hour ride, I rather enjoyed watching the motorcyclists on the road and used the time to consider other means by which to live and enjoy my trailer. As if I wasn’t lucky enough to get a great deal on the milk crates, but the dude selling them to me was a motorcyclist also and we sat for a good 20 minutes talking about riding, bikes, and he offered for me to return to north Georgia to ride with him, his wife, and his father-in-law. I made my way back to Dad’s and stopped twice along the way for a few quick pictures of the mountains. North Georgia is absolutely gorgeous.
It was early evening by the time I returned home and I immediately sprayed the crate with the hose so they could dry while I ate dinner. After which, I brought them into my room so that I could begin to pack and organize over the next couple of days. Also over the next couple of days I caught up on some work that had lagged during Nathan’s working visit and I also began the plumbing for the trailer. I gave myself a short break from heavy physical work and I think Dad was taking the same break. I received several re-purposed goodies from internet friends that would be usable in my trailer. Some of these items were shower curtain hooks, a grill made from a tool box, a mini refrigerator, wooden hangers, sheets, mini George Foreman grill, plastic cups and a few other decorative fun things.
During the week Nathan came to help, I received a notice in the mail that Regions Hospital in Minnesota had put a lien against Progressive Insurance. In learning what this meant down to the nitty gritty, needless to say, I felt as if the rug had been ripped out from under me ‘again’. On the upper most level this means that the hospital has dibs on the insurance money and I get nothing. There are means by which to request the hospital understands and cooperation but there are no guarantees. My attorney began the process of lobbying for the hospital’s help. In the meantime, I am stuck again. Without the insurance money, I had very little means to get the truck needed to pull my trailer. Sometimes it just seems like the nightmare never ends.
By Thursday morning my room was fairly well organized and packed, with only the daily essentials still out in the open. I would be picking my clothes from the crates until I was ready to pack and move on. Little did I realize that morning that I was about to move on far quicker than I was ready to or prepared to because home life got real nasty, real quick. I try very hard not to vomit negativity all over the internet, because as I have said before; who would want to follow that? However, it is from time to time prudent to share the truly human side of my story so that people realize a lot more creates the woman that you read about and the things that can weigh heavily and change things drastically.
In short, the overall discomfort of having another person in her home made my Dad’s wife highly agitated for some time apparently. A small insignificant action set-off a war full of hate and profanity. Alcohol fueled emotions raged and I did my utmost to stay calm and not scream back. Unfortunately though, it seemed that I had overstayed my welcome. I suppose if there had been hard cases of wrong doings on my part, cases of irresponsibility in their home, or disrespect towards them, then I would have no reason to complain. Yet I did everything I could to clean my room, my bathroom, I cooked, helped with dishes, bought groceries many times, I did not amass debt borrowing money from anybody, and did errands and cooked when I could.
Granted, I will certainly admit that the mental and physical pain I suffered while there was not easy for me to deal with and certainly couldn’t have been easy for them to deal with either as they watched it unfold. However, I do not feel that I took any purposeful actions that would make me deserve the lashing I received. I’ve lived through that before and my own mother made such a point on my Facebook after this incident as her way of standing up for me, letting others know that addicts create pain they don’t even realize, and to generally help me tell the painful story without bashing the snot out of my step mother but yet telling people why I had to move on so quickly.
Over the next three days she did not come out of her room until late evening when Dad and I were turning in for the night. The tension was thick and my father was suffering tremendously because two women he loved so dearly were in such a horrible place. Dad and I worked well together during those three days on finalizing plumbing, making the breaker box tidy, and putting up the insulation in the walls. He wouldn’t talk about what happened but we had some fun all the same. For those days that his wife held up in her room, I made sure Dad and I ate well and cleaned up the kitchen. On Sunday evening while Dad and I were eating dinner and watching TV, he suggested that it would be a good idea for me to visit my aunt or grandparents for a few days until things blew over.It took me a little time to figure out where to go and what to do. I was trying not to spend money so I had to prepare smartly. I was able to make arrangements and was offered help to go visit friends in Daytona as it was just before Bike Week. I had a radio interview planned for Wednesday and I had not seen these friends since Daytona the year prior, so this is the option I took.
My friend Tim (Fat Job) had invited me to join the folks camping at Rick and Karen Reed’s. Now Rick is the type of guy that makes you think ‘old skool biker’. Spending most of his life in the northern suburbs of Illinois, owning Reed-Randall Ford, and becoming heavily involved in Harley Davidson motorcycle racing; Rick made a spectacular name for himself. Hard core, damn straight, brutally honest, party animal, gracious host… I could go on! And Karen is just a saint for all she does for Rick and all of us transient bikers through the years. Guess that’s what happens when you retire to Florida… your friends from IL escape the cold and come visit.
Anyway, also joining us from Illinois and Wisconsin were Harvey with his wife Nanner, PigPen, and new friends Tracy and Charlie. For the three days I was there it was chilly and damp two. On Monday evening after my arrival, the party already in full force, I felt the need to cut loose and catch up. MISTAKE!! Needless to say, other than one borderline night at Christmas, this was the most big girl drinks I had in over a year. OUCH!! But you never cry hangover at a biker function. The next morning Rick told Tracy and I that we were going to his island and that he had made a monument to me when he found out that I was coming. We gathered a few beers for the cooler and donned our jackets. The airboat ride was much colder this year than the year prior. When we pulled up you couldn’t help but see the safety yellow Rider’s Claw t-shirt that he was given the year prior, at the time we first met.
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Rick tell Tracy the stories I learned about the trinkets and such located about the island. The can coozie that Mike and I put on the tree last year was still there though on the ground. I secured it again to the coozie tree and we shall see if it’s there next year. As it turns out, bikers are extremely romantic. Rick said that some of the boys tried to build a heart shaped fire pit for the ladies on Valentine’s Day but they couldn’t make it light. Well, if you pour the fuel straight in the mote, that sucker will light up for sure. It doesn’t last long but it sure was pretty. We sat around the island long enough to consume 3 beers each, sling some bull, and generally relax around the fire. The other boys had finished helping Karen move some furniture and so we returned to the house to prepare for dinner and another evening of friendly foolery.
At any given time there are always folks meandering in and out to see Rick and Karen, most especially during Bike Week – before/after. Needless to say, I met a bunch of people but simply cannot recall them all. For sure though, Rotton stands amongst the memorable. The boys took me the next day to meet Rotton, also a leg amputee from a bike crash. The guy is hyper to say the least. He was working on the bathroom trim in his man-cave when we arrived. When we got there, our numbers were 6, after about 3 hours and ready to head downtown for a beverage and bite, we were about 12. I was starving but since I had a responsible ride and this was the only decent day for riding, I was yet again cutting loose. I had a great night hanging out with friends; I only wished I could’ve stayed for the following week (Bike Week starting) when some of my own friends from Illinois would be arriving. So it goes, business must be attended to. After a loud and crazy night of dancing and hanging with friends we returned somewhat early to Rick’s. I had to leave early to return to Georgia in preparation for my flight Friday morning at 6:00 AM to visit Chicago for my granddaughter’s 2nd birthday party.
A couple of hours into my ride back to Dad’s, he sent me an email indicating that I could come pick-up some stuff if I needed to but that things were still shaky and he thought it best if I slept somewhere else. He offered me money for a hotel or suggested family in area. Kind of a crappy deal in my opinion but it’s his house so I had to oblige. I did not stop for anything but made my way straight to a cheap hotel near the airport. I ate and was asleep by 6:30 PM. The morning was rough because I don’t ever sleep that well throughout the night and I simply don’t like mornings. I was able to catch the first stand-by flight my buddy set for me so that went off without a hitch. A straight flight and I actually napped a bit on the plane. When I arrived in Chicago it was only 8:30 local time. I picked up my rental car and headed straight for my dear friend Larry’s shop. I knew he’d be there early and on this short pointed trip, I didn’t think I’d get to see him otherwise. We caught up a bit and he was impressed with my walking, and bid our farewells for the moment. Next stop… A BURRITO… I was starving. Chicago burritos are amazing! I took my fresh burrito to Lynn and Nick’s house where I would be staying. Lynn and I caught up while I ate lunch and we ran to Ramon’s Leatherworks in Worth to pick-up the cowboy boot that Ray put a zipper in for my fake foot. For the rest of the day, I relaxed with Lynn and then Nick when we came home from work.
Saturday would prove to be a very busy day. I woke and got dressed to meet a bunch of friends at Gnarly J’s in Downers Grove. Jen, one of the owners, was nice enough to accommodate our crowd of over 50 at the last minute. I hadn’t expected such a turn-out and our previous venue would not be suitable. The only downfall was that the young kids couldn’t come in to visit. For one I stood by the door and caught up a little and took pictures because they had already driven so far to see me. For another I had to visit her after the luncheon. The luncheon was a success and as always, I was able to meet several folks that follow along online that I had never previously met. And of course, some of most loved friends were in attendance.
As mentioned, I went afterwards to see a couple of lovely little ladies that just wanted to be sure Ms. Ursula was for-real alright; in person. The girls drew flowers on my fake leg with Sharpie markers and I got to catch up with Jamie, Connie, Jamie’s Mom, and the girls.
From Connie and Jamie’s in Lockport, I headed to Channahon for another dear friend. Jennifer has been my friend for about 13 years and does not run in my biker circle. Her husband Mark had a birthday party planned for her and I was excited to relax and enjoy this evening with her. I arrived around 6:00 PM and helped as best I could with food. Even at Jen’s I was able to meet some folks that follow me online because Jen and Mark share my story. One dude had a fake arm so we took a silly photo for a “caption this” contest online. The food was amazing as always in that house. The visit with the extended family and Shawn plus the new friends was a much needed piece of down time. I love those folks and miss them a lot. I didn’t get to see the kids because it was a grown up party, but they know Auntie Ursula loves them. I left there about 10 PM and headed back to Lynn and Nick’s. I chatted for a short while and retired to bed.
Sunday was the reason for my visit. I rose early and got dressed. I went to Toys R Us to spoil my granddaughter for her birthday. I arrived very early at the party place and was able to give Tina a lot of help with setup. It was enjoyable to be able to help her for a change. I don’t get to do it much and didn’t do as much as I would have liked before. This was a good thing for my soul. Once the guests began arriving we went to play in the gymnasium and I had a great time trying to keep up with Ms. Kylee Rae. One little girl about 7 years old that attended the party (her name escapes me) needed help on the balance beam so I held her hand as she walked across. I then asked her if she’d help me. She took my hand and after a shaky mount to the balance beam I was able to get up. I walked that 6’ and the little girl was so tickled to have helped me. She even said I did a good job.
Playing, pizza, pictures and plenty of sugar. After the party at the gymnasium I followed my son to Tina’s house and there we opened presents and put toys together. Clearly we had to play with them as well. I had already removed my belongings from Lynn’s as I was going to my best friend Meg’s after visiting with my family. Meg had cooked steaks and roasted kale leaves. The dinner was good and the catch up session was much needed. Meg has always been that friend that knows the best and worst about me but never stops loving me. She is a friend that will tell you the truth even in a bad situation but will do so with compassion and logic. The visits are never long enough with any of the special people yet the healing the short visits provide; help me get through until the next time. My flight Monday wasn’t as early so I was able to rest well and get my rear back to the airport.
Upon arriving in Georgia I told my father I’d be by to pick-up my trailer in the early evening. My friend Tim used his truck to help me retrieve the trailer. He took it to his house and I went to the grocery for dinner. I had intended to stay at a local RV lot but my friend would not have it. As I’ve done before when staying with folks, I was now designated the chef for Tim and his son Jonah; a job I absolutely love and enjoy.
When I got to Tim’s with groceries they unloaded and I made dinner. I was too tired and still torn up over the situation with Dad and his wife. I did nothing with the trailer that day and went to sleep early. I spent the greater part of Tuesday organizing the mess within the trailer and set it up fairly functional. Over the next two weeks I got it squared away in a highly functional manner and enjoyed it a great deal.
During my stay with Tim, we spent one weekend at the CRA Clubhouse (Conyers Riding Association) for a spring clean and member party. I met these folks at a party two months back and it was delight to spend time with them again. I didn’t help much with the clubhouse repairs but I did get to help Ms. Eileen scrub her RV from sitting there over the winter. It was nice sunny day and it was a good chore that made for good exercise. I spent some time by myself working and catching up on emails.
I received notice in the mail that a hearing was scheduled for the young man that hit me. The notice was delayed due to getting mail from Dad and so it was a small but not terrible scramble to get Jeff’s help with a flight to MN. I dealt with the Victim’s Advocate for Chisago County and knew what to expect. I was able to prepare a statement that the court would receive prior to sentencing and which I could choose to read aloud if I wished.
I left on Monday, March 17, 2014. I let my first responders and a select few folks from Minnesota know that I was coming so we could finally meet again; minus the dying in the ditch thing. The day’s travel was long with a connection in LaGuardia and general delays. After finally getting my rental car, I was unable to find a deal on Hotels.com as I usually do. One of my responders had already offered her extra room and so I had to take that offer after having no luck with lodging. Luckily I would be removed from the rest of the family and not disruptive. It’s weird to be at somebody else’s house now. My routine is way different and with my insides still messed up, I don’t sleep well and am restless (up and down at night). I reached Jamie’s house with an hour to spare before dinner with the other responders. We met them at a pizza place in Shafer. I didn’t cry when I first saw Jamie; perhaps still hyped from the flight and 1.5 hour drive but when I arrived faced with dozens of responders, their spouses, and children I couldn’t help my leaky eyes. Hugs that lasted long moments, kisses that radiated love, and stories that made me realize – these are angels on earth. Regular folks with jobs saving lives is one thing, but when they care enough to follow-up and follow along, that is nothing short of a blessing. I learned some details about the day of my crash that I had not recalled and that were behind the scenes that I wouldn’t have known. For instance, these responders were on scene for many many hours in the that heat far after the helicopter took me away. There were accident recreation teams, traffic control, removing the bike and car, witness statements, and so much more.
That night with these people only gave me more reason to do the best I can at whatever it is my life brings. They risk their lives for us, they miss their families for us, and it is my honor to call them friends. It is my hope that they will always remain proud of saving MY LIFE.
When I returned with Jamie to her home, we were in the garage with her husband having a final smoke for the night. I took the one step up into the foyer and caught my fake toes. I fell forward with all my weight and attempted to catch myself with my right arm. The previously broken collar bone now jutted out my back like a twisted mess. She and her husband both EMTs were not exactly sure what to do. This has happened to me twist but not with such force and this far dislocated. My feet were still hanging into the freezing cold Minnesota garage and the cold was coming into the house. I wanted them to grab me around the body and pull me in to shut the door. In so doing, happen chance was that both their hands on me in just such a way that when they pulled back the shoulder went back also. Sore as all get out but it seemed to be back in place. We joked a bit about not coming back here because I always get hurt, we iced the shoulder, and then all went to bed.
Tuesday was a bitter sweet day to say the least. I arrived at court and was led by the victim’s advocate to the court room. A young man towards the front with long hair turned and upon seeing me, stood and came to me with arms open. Anthony was alone in the courtroom, nobody at his side. This kid was facing jail time, fines, and a rehash of the pain of months gone by. I had already prepared my statement for the court and I asked if he wanted to read it. He did and though he shed no tear right then, I could see clearly that his heart was scared. When I lay dying in the ditch I reached for this kid’s hand because I was all alone and scared. This day, he reached for mine. I am not his Mother, but when I see him, I see my own son. Stupid mistakes by good hearted people can change lives so profoundly. I have no anger towards young Anthony yet. I will definitely find him and kick his ass if he does not become the good man that I know he can be; as I would my own son. They are what we teach them for a while and then they are what they choose to be.
Our turn came and the judge and district attorney took their respectful lashings at Anthony. I was then permitted to read my statement and indicate what I felt fair for his retribution. The judge and the victim’s advocate were both in awe that I didn’t want the kid buried under the jail. What good would that serve but to create another bitter young person that hates authority. Instead, Anthony’s jail time was stayed with probation, a boat load of community service hours, extensive defensive driving course, fines, and repayment of restitution. Following court I invited Anthony to lunch. We discussed how things in both our lives had been going. We discussed his new job and his potential to return to school. After lunch, Anthony took me to the crash site and though it was snow covered and the cows not present, the scene was clear in my mind. Seeing it again, knowing exactly where my body was and where my bike was, made my insides churn and I had no choice but to thank God once again that I was still here. We returned to Anthony’s home and visited with his roommate for a bit again sharing more stories and many laughs. It was not until Anthony walked me to my car so I didn’t slip on the ice that I saw tears in his eyes. He thanked me, he hugged me tight, and wept briefly until I told him to cut the crap and turn this tragedy into something good. “I promise, I will.” Make no promise to me; make it to yourself and your creator.
I took a peaceful ride back to Jamie’s stopping at a local Buffalo Ranch for a goofy picture. The rest of the day was spent nursing my shoulder and doing some work. In the morning I would be back on a plane to Georgia to continue moving on with life. I reached St. Paul with lots of time to spare and Regions Hospital was in sight from the interstate. I pulled off to refuel the rental and decided to call my surgeons to see if they were in clinic. I was fortune to reach Dr. Cole but not Dr. Fletcher. When I saw Dr. Cole and his assistant, again, I got misty eyed. These people had seen me at the worst moment in my life, pushing death’s envelope. They had saved this crazy biker, a debt that can never be repaid. Dr. Cole asked me all sorts of questions about the recovery, the new femur, the prosthetics, and even asked if I would do a human interest article for his foundation. They still carry my Nailmaille hearts that were gifts to them when I left. We had a quick photo op and big hugs then I was off to the airport.
I did not make it back to Tim’s in Georgia until 2AM. I was in pain, exhausted, and still reeling from so many emotions over the past few weeks. In the next two days the shoulder was still screaming in pain and as it turned out it was not fully back into place. Tim’s daughter-in-law being a nurse came to visit and check me out. She provided a sling and gave me directions. I suck at following directions but I tried. It wasn’t until day three that I moved a certain way and felt the rest of the pop – AAAHHHH – it was really back in place. Oh my gosh the relief, now to wait for the soreness to go down.
The next couple of weeks were spent ramping up business, preparing for my new radio show, and Tim’s son Jonah and his buddy Toby helped me put up the paneling in the trailer. Runt, one of Tim’s workers even helped me seal the exhaust vent that had been leaking. We spent a lot of dinners together and I even invited the boys to “my house”. We had four grown folks seated at a table for dinner in this tiny little trailer. I played a CD my Mom gave me on the laptop, “America’s Greatest Motorcycle Rallies”. It was a lovely dinner with new friends growing stronger in my life.
Harvey Marshall and Nanner came through on their return to Illinois, well… sort of! Nanner we put on a plane to Texas the day after she arrived from Daytona and Harvey was going to stay with us a while. Oh the retired life, with no schedule. I searched and searched and finally found a 2003 Dodge Ram that seemed suitable for my purpose. Dad and I went to make the deal on a Friday afternoon. Dad did some basic refresh of fluids, filters, and serpentine belt as precautions.
I got the opportunity to go to Tennessee to hang out and ride with some of my Illinois friends. Cheyenne, Brent, Dave, and Casie had invited me to join them. I found a KOA that was great. We had one very full day of riding and site seeing. It was such a treat to be with friends and on the back of a bike soaking up the sun. On the day I was to leave we joined up at my campsite for a homemade breakfast. My first radio show with The Road Hawgs was recorded that day and Cheyenne among a few other friends called in for the debut introduction to ROAD Lines with The B.R.O.A.D. This trip was a test run if you will to see how the truck and trailer would do. And how I would do. It was awesome and I was looking forward to the full-time road trip again. Different, but back to my gypsy life.
While on Hunter Farms, I enjoyed the beautiful landscape that was mere blocks from where I spent my childhood summers. I saw calves born and even a set of twins. I watched Jonah and his buddies fishing. I learned a lot about hay and cattle. We took motorcycle rides and visited a few local events. Dad brought me BB a few times and she would spend a few days with me, then him, then back to me, until I had to leave. My time with the Hunter family was a much needed reprieve but soon I would have to move on.
I hitched my rig and Harvey and Tim hitched the toy hauler. We were off to the CRA-MC clubhouse for their spring swap meet. This would be my last weekend standing still in Georgia. The swap meet weekend a blast despite all the rain. Not much stuff was sold but a good time was had by all.
Easter Sunday we all packed up and headed out different directions; them to their homes and families and I headed out on the full-time road trip I am calling 2nd Leg of the B.R.O.A.D. ™ journey. First stop, Florida to have my leg tweaked.