“I ride my bike, I roller skate don’t drive no car. Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far …”
Jeff and Brian loved anything with wheels! When they were babies they would scoot around in their walkers, racing around the room on a collision course with just about everything, including each other and me! Of course, Jeff was walking on his own by the time Brian was in his walker, but that didn’t stop him from squeezing himself into his old one and racing with his little brother. They had to have everything alike and do everything together. It was amazing to watch.
They graduated to regular bikes with training wheels at what I considered to be a much too early age, but I was overruled by their need for speed and their Daddy, who thought this was great fun! Needless to say, the training wheels were removed within two weeks, and the two of them were off. That’s about the time that I bought myself a bicycle so that I could “ride with them” … at least that’s the reason I gave them. See, I really just wanted to follow them around to make certain they didn’t kill each other, something I thought was a very real possibility. They hated the helmets, elbow and knee pads I made them wear, but I told them to watch the next NASCAR race on TV, and they would see that the drivers all wear helmets and protective gear. Still, they called it “babyish” and wanted to know why they had to wear “this weird stuff” when their friends in the neighborhood didn’t. “Why, Mommy … why, why, why”. That’s when I would start singing, “Because Just Because” until they finally gave up. I won that one … either helmets and gear or no bicycles. So, they never rode without them.
Next came in-line skates for them and for me! Glad we already had the helmets, elbow and knee pads. I would pick them up after school everyday, and we would go to their Granny’s condominium complex, next door to their school. We would spend hours skating around the flat parking lot, while my Mom would sit on the balcony watching us. I actually became pretty good at it, though I was never able to use the toe brake. They, on the other hand, took to it right away and were racing around the neighborhood before long … but not without their helmets and pads!
Then there were skateboards … gosh, memories from back in the day! My amazing Mother brought one home to me when I was about 10. Didn’t even ask her for one, she just brought it. Skateboards aren’t the same today as they used to be, but so it goes.
We moved next to “Razors” … those scooter things! The guys loved them! In fact, Brian and his friends used to take them to school their Senior year and rode them around the parking lot after hours. That didn’t make Mr. Shellnut, the principal, very happy with any of them. In fact, I think Mt. Pisgah Christian School still owns Brian’s Razor!!!
When they learned to drive, they did pretty well … there were accidents for both of them, but no one was hurt and the damage was always pretty minimal … except to the boys’ cars. We bought all three of them Volvo’s, because they were slow going and reinforced. Just didn’t know that, in order to protect the driver/passenger, these cars cave in – in a V in the front, which totals the car, the engine, etc. So, three Volvo’s later, we learned! Replaced them with Ford Taurus’s. Jeff did well with his … it was a good car, with minor incidents until a friend shot out the passenger side window one late night in Statesboro. Oh wait …. they were inside the car, and the friend shot from inside to out! Brian’s old, white Taurus, as he said, was a “POS” … yes, it was, and he and his friends took it apart, piece by piece, trying to make it into a dune buggy … go figure.
We didn’t let Jeff take his car to Georgia Southern until mid-term his first Semester. We told him he had to make the grades first. So, when we took him down to Statesboro that bright August morning, he was carless, but he had a job already lined up … at the Dominos Pizza owned by the same franchisee that he worked for in Dunwoody through high school. After we unloaded everything at the dorm, the first place he wanted to go was to Dominos. It was across campus from his dorm, and quite a long walk. His manager offered to sell him a bike for $10. He came out of the store grinning with the news. We said, “okay” and gave him a $10 bill. He came out with the bike …. it looked like it was made for a 6 year old, it was SO small. We put the bike in the back of our car and returned to the dorm. Then he got the bike from the car, kissed us goodbye and rode off. I’ll never forget him riding away, all knees and elbows, on that tiny, little bike. It was a heart wrenching moment for me, but Jeff was so proud … he was off on another adventure, wheels and all!
When it came to wheels, though, both Jeff and Brian were passionate for pick-up trucks. That’s what they wanted. They both had them … Jeff’s a Toyota Tacoma and Brian’s a Nissan Frontier … and they both so loved them. They took wonderful care of those trucks, saving up their earnings to make them better with bed liners, mud flaps, running boards and more. When I think of how they enjoyed those trucks, it makes me smile. And, I thought they were safe in those trucks … that made me smile, too.
But, here’s the thing … if I could have put all three of my beautiful and amazing boys in a bubble and kept them for always safe, I would have. Allyn let me do that for a while, but not for long and not anymore. The boys . .. well, they never did. They had no fear. Unfortunately, there are some things you cannot protect your precious loved ones from, no matter how hard you try. Leukemia is just such a thing, as is sudden cardiac arrest caused by heredity and a stupid mistake … Brian’s and mine. Still, I know, in fact, I am certain, that if not for Leukemia, they would both be here today. So, I’m asking … will you help us find a cure? Our only mission is to fund research for a cure, because we know that is the best way to help all of those lost, those struggling today, and those yet to come.