“Goin’ for a ride on my scooter,” the Preacher said. “Here’s the cell in case your sister texts back,” I muttered an absent-minded response and resumed writing.
Ninety minutes later, his comment registered when I noticed the phone, and realized the time. I had no chance to worry, because just then he limped into my office and said three words.
“Now we’re even.”
“Even? What d’ya mean?” I finished my written thought, then looked up. “Good grief, WHAT HAPPENED?”
Now for the backstory: Eight years ago, (two years before a mosquito infected him with West Nile Neurological Disease) the Preacher realized a decades-old dream when he bought his motor scooter. When I pestered him to let me drive it, he finally relented.
In the park behind our parsonage, he showed me stop and go. I drove off, free and foolish. Cresting a small hill, I realized something: I’d forgotten about the fence at the bottom. Only one thing made sense at the time: hopping off to let the scooter tackle the fence alone.
These types of decisions, happy husbands do not make.
After he became ill, we stored his dream vehicle for years. I urged him to sell it, but a dream bites hard — and dies hard. Now, having gained enough health to ride again, he stood in my office — resembling Tar Baby on his left side.
He’d been looking for the village cemetery, he said. But one of the uninhabited country roads he’d explored had dwindled into a tractor trail, thickly mudded from recent rains and imprinted with moose tracks. The mud and thought of nearby moose unsettled him. Seconds later the scooter lost traction and spun out. He landed on the bottom.
“You can’t get a walker on a motorbike,” I’d reminded him often. Now, without walker or cell phone, he had to execute his own rescue. Somehow he managed to right both himself and the scooter. But when he tried starting it, the mud-injected motor only sputtered and missed — until his last try.
“All I could think of, all the way home,” he said, “was, ‘What’s Kathleen gonna say?’”Grinning, he added, “I rode home as fast as the thing would go, hoping I’d dry off and you wouldn’t notice.”
The next morning, a voice on the opposite side of the bed said, “That was a stupid thing I did yesterday.”
Over the last many weeks, as his popped ribs have healed, the Preacher has gotten smarter. He bought a fold-up cane to stash in the seat and promised not to leave his phone behind again.
And what, exactly, did I say? A few things, likely as you imagine. But here’s my final say: the Preacher worries me to death — but he inspires me more.
When God grants you a joy pure and lovely; something that hurts no one and lessens life’s stressors — be wise about this, but hang on to it as long as ever possible, even when life (or the wife) says nay.