Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Weekend

As you know, my brother passed away in February (Valentine's Day *sigh*) - and my friend Mary Ellen's husband passed away about a couple of weeks later, end of the month. My brother's tombstone arrived in time for Memorial weekend, which makes me glad, simply because it means so much to my parents.

It's raining today - and while others look at these grey, stormy days as depressing, they're oddly refreshing to me, because after the rains...well, you know the rest. ANYWAY...

I received an email from Mary Ellen this morning, and I couldn't help but smile. Today would have been her and Charlie's 56th wedding anniversary, and she shared a story with me that I hadn't heard.

Before you read it (and I don't think she'll mind my sharing it), picture a young bride, about 19 yrs old, who had just married a man 16 years her senior. Her father had taught her how to ride motorcycles, and she met this handsome hell-raiser at a motorcycle rally. Her dad was leery, because Charlie was so much older, not to mention experienced in a lot of ways his daughter wasn't. But the family accepted and loved Charlie - if you'd met him, you'd know why. The man was incorrigible but irresistibly charming.

Mary Ellen and Charlie wound up owning several businesses, which they passed on to their children, helping them establish livelihoods. One of the businesses was a motorcycle shop, and one of their 8 children was Guy Cooper, who was twice named the World Motorcross Champion.

I digress, sorry. Long before the businesses and the children, though, there was the couple. Here's a snippet about their honeymoon.

Hello! 56 years ago May 24 was also on a Sat and it looked like rain that afternoon too. We were married on Sat morning in St. Francis Xavier and the reception was next door in the school basement because at that time the church basement wasn't fixed up with a kitchen. We were supposed to leave immediately after the reception, but Charlie's motorcycle was still being overhauled, so I hung around his sister's and mother's house until about 3 or 4 o'clock when we finally took off on two motorcycles.

We had no reservations anywhere, we just knew we were headed for Arkansas. We would look at the clouds at each highway intersection and he would motion and away we would go.

We stopped in Henrietta, ate supper of a bowl of chili each, which cost 35 cents (and was the cheapest thing on the menu). After church on Sun we continued on south in OK to what is now the Winding Stair Mountain road, a scenic drive, but was then a jeep trail/fire watch road.

There being no restaurants, we took a lunch. Of course, I have a booklet of black and white pics we took on the trip. Most of the photos are of my back when we were riding down highways. Charlie would turn loose of his handlebars and snap my picture from the camera hanging around his neck.

He could ride for miles with no hands, but I always kept one hand on the handlebars. I will never forget, nor did Charlie, how he got tired of me being so slow in riding down hills on the jeep trail, using my brakes and engine to hold me back.

At one point, after several hours of this, he said, "I want you to kick it out of gear and coast down the next hill." So I did. It was the steepest, roughest with big rocks the size of basketballs and deep ruts.

When I finally stopped at the bottom, shaking. He rode up beside me, saying, "I'm so SORRY! I rode as fast as i could and I could not catch you! After this, you just ride as slow as you want to."

My fast ride had really frightened him. We went on to see several places in Arkansas for a week. By the next Sat we were both tired of looking at mountains and trees and were ready to get back home. I'm sure I've told about our honeymoon trip before, but today just reminded me again of it.

Life does indeed go on. Sometimes we're sad when Memorial Day or that weekend comes around, but this cheered me. It reminds me of the joys I've had with those who have passed. It reminds me to be grateful for the soldiers for whom this holiday was established and for everyone whose life I celebrate when I think of this day.

Here’s an article about Guy, in case you’re interested.

And here are some links about Mary Ellen’s grandson, Kenny Bartram, who carries on his Uncle Guy’s motorcycle marvels. (good looking fellow, isn’t he? *g*)
Kenny & Baja 1000
Cowboy Kenny in Caineville

Have a good weekend, everybody.

~ Sunny Lyn



At 1:18 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

...and for those who are reading, I did get Mary Ellen's blessing to post this. :)

At 3:25 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I love your positive outlook.
And it's true - somehow, some way, those rainbows do appear.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

Thanks, Beth. 2008 started off kinda rough, and it may get rougher, but...gotta hang onto the good that we can grasp.

hugs, woman...have a good weekend...

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Merry said...

Winding Stair is stunning, but I cannot imagine doing it as a jeep trail! Wow.

Good memories. Makes you really appreciate the small things in life.

Hope you have rainbows the rest of 2008.

Love ya!

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Lovely post and wonderful memories.
The ride down the hill made me smile, as did the 35 cent bowl of chili (Well, I remember when gas was 25 cents a gallon!)

At 1:52 AM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

Thanks, Sam. Laughing here - I remember filling up my little car for 25 cents when it was about half full - lol.


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