21st June 2018
Day 40 – The Longest Day
Rest Day – Erie, PA
Today is our last rest day before Boston. As you know by now Don is in town, so we met up again this morning. He had another treat in store for me. Breakfast. We got in the car and headed a few miles out of town to a ‘real diner’, that was actually an old box car diner and on the National Register of Historic Places. What a cool spot! Look it up at Lawrence Park Dinor (yes spelled dinor) if you get a chance. When we were waiting for a booth we got chatting to a couple of local guys who were really interested in my journey. They were as friendly as can be. We chatted and they gave us a recommendation for a BBQ joint in Syracuse and even gave me a contact to make sure we could work it out when I get there! Hero’s.
The Lawrence Park Dinor had all the original fittings and many sayings posted on the walls for entertainment. Tow of my favouries – ‘Let me stop Everything and work on your problem’ and ‘Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts’. This diner has been around since 1948 which makes it seventy this year. Today it was looking good for seventy.
Don and I went for a real diner experience and it definitely didn’t let us down. I really hope these types of places continue to survive and that people continue to support them. Granted big cities can take lots of chain food stores, alongside individual specialist stores, but small towns can only support so many and some of these long time favorites are often the fabric of a small town. I have been lucky enough to sample a few on my days off including in Flagstaff, Abilene and now here in Erie.
After breakfast Don dropped me off at the hotel and headed back off to Toronto. I put my washing on and then went to meet Pete DeNardis, a fellow WM’er from Pittsburgh. Pete read my story here and got in touch with Deirdre to arrange to meet with me. Pete is a long time WM patient and his story is quite remarkable (go to IWMF website and see stories to learn about his story). We chatted over lunch for a couple of hours talking about the ride, WM and our cancer experience. As I have said before in doing this blog I have discovered a whole group of fellow WM’ers, which has made me feel less alone with this rare lymphoma. I never dreamt when I set out on this journey with both bike and blog that it would help me in such a variety of ways. After a really nice lunch during which I am sure I talked too much as usual, it was time to go finish my laundry and get ready for my next fueling at 5:00 pm with the boys. We are the early birds for sure.
Dinner was at the Tap House (where Don and I had a drink yesterday). It was a night of good food, good beer and good friends. We Uber’d the short distance back to the hotel, after which I still had things to go to prepare for this last week of riding.
On the longest day of the year I always think about my Mother a little more than usual. Aside frm the fact it is her bday, I’m always reminded of my Nan and a comment I heard her make many times over the years. On the 21st June every year, without fail, someone would say the obvious – “21st of June is the longest day of the year” to which my Nan would always reply “And it was!” This was a reference to a long and (I gather) difficult delivery my Nan had with my Mum. We laughed about it most years. So yes today would have been my Mother’s birthday and I am sure like almost all other people I miss my Mother and thought she was the best ever. Mum never sought attention but instead always supported the people around her. She played the piano, accompanying singers who were the centre of attention. As a cook for a gentry family, she cooked lavish banquets for many, and sat back in the kitchen while her food was enjoyed. As Midwife, she delivered thousands of babies and then left the families to celebrate with their newest addition.
I know I have recalled many stories about my Mother and that is because we were also great friends. She actually really knew me very well. We spent a lot of time over the years chatting about life and all sorts of things. For the last 10 or so years of her life I used to see her for at least one day a week. She would drive over to Bowdon every Tuesday, rain or shine, and and we would do something together like visit a restaurant for lunch, go people watching in the Trafford Centre in Manchester or just hang out at our house. After her sight got too bad to drive my Uncle Jim used to bring her over every Tuesday, and I had them both for a day to entertain. We talked a lot and laughed a lot. Mainly we talked about everyday life, but isn’t that what real relationships are about – the everyday things that bring you closer together and teach you all the little things that make up that person. You have to listen to other people to get to know them. You have to be open with others for them to get to know you. Assuming you know someone is nothing like actually knowing someone well. So that’s what I miss about the people I loved who are no longer around, all those little things that made up them and a part of me. I am sure most people are the same and will understand what I mean. I will miss not having my Mother, Uncle Jim and my Grandparents around next week. The funny thing is I know exactly what they would say and do. I know my Mother and Nan would ask me have I eaten well, am I feeling OK, does my laundry need doing and how much weight have I lost. My Uncle would ask me how Irma ran on the different roads and different conditions during the ride, how fast did she go and how did she handle at speed. My Grandfather would just smile and ask me if I had fun. So maybe I won’t miss them next week when I finally roll into Boston because I already know what they would say and think about my big adventure. People who are not longer with us live on in others and their stories. I know this is why I have always loved real stories. On this trip I have gathered some new people and more stories which are now part of me and maybe part of them too.
So on the longest day of the year I rested, talked to old friends and new, thought a lot about my Mum and about finishing this big adventure next week. It really was a great day! I have been fortunate in my life to have met and am still meeting many good people along the way. My head is constantly full of stories of all the people I have met, and the many things I’ve seen or done. So they live on today in my mind and heart, like my Mother.
One quote I really like from Vishwas Chavan and think so true is “Your success is directly proportional to the number of lives you have touched for the better.’ I am grateful for all those who have touched my life for the better.