I have shared some funny stories from my past. Today I need to be a bit serious for a moment. Excuse me if I get a tad long winded. I would like to tell my story.
Today, September 27, is the anniversary of my mothers passing. Every year on this day, I take a trip to visit her grave. Its not a sad occasion. I hang on to all the good memories. It’s tucked in a picture perfect little cemetery in the hills. Off to the East Otto Cemetery. I will take Black Betty for a ride.
My mom loved this area. When she was a young teen, she moved here with her sister and mother to escape an awful human being. My grandfather. He abused his wife and children every way possible. He was an all time huge piece of shit. He passed away before I was born, denying me the chance to spit in his face. My grandmother met an old farmer who took her and the girls in. Gave them a loving home and showed them how a real man acts. My mom faced many horrors in her youth, but she refused to let these things define her. She would not let that piece of garbage steal her joy. Mom turned her negative life experiences into a desire to be positive and help others. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last negative experience she would deal with.
When I was 19 years old my parents separated. It was a huge blow to me. We were a tight family. I was brought up to believe family always sticks together. This darkened my world view. Then, later that year, my mom was assaulted in broad daylight, in a supermarket parking lot. By some junkie who was the same age as me. He tried to steal her purse. But she resisted. He knocked her unconscious and robbed her. He was caught 30 minutes later and arrested. Besides the physical harm caused, this shook mom deeply. If she wasn’t safe at noon at the grocery store, then where is she safe. A few weeks later, I convinced her to attend his hearing. Face your fears head on, and stare this trash in the eye. I wanted his face burned into my memory. We sat front row bold and strong. He was let off with time served. Just a slap on the wrist. No jail, no probation, no apology. I was outraged.
I decided that I would extract justice. I started thinking, and planning. I let myself go to a very dark place. I spent over a year of my life consumed by hate and darkness. But during this time my mom taught me something. She once again decided that she would not let someone else dictate her life. She forgave this person. Her positivity was unwavering. I came to understand that I didn’t want justice, I wanted vengeance. It wasn’t worth giving into the darkness when there is so much good in the world. Ultimately, if I destroyed him I would destroy myself. I had to let go of the hate. Her attacker straightened himself out over time. He has a family now and sells real estate. I see his face on sale posters out front of houses. Not forgiven. Not forgotten. Just left alone. My priorities soon changed when mom was diagnosed with leukemia.
After mom passed I made two promises to myself. One, I would make the most of my time with my father. And second, I would live with no regrets. This brings me to the story of Black Betty and how she came into my life.
Dad was retired when mom passed. He decided he wanted to live his dream. Ride across the USA. Stop at Sturgis Bike Rally in North Dakota, then dip his toes in the Pacific Ocean. So he traded in his Honda 750 for a full size cruiser. Big Red, as she came to be known. And off he went. I can hear Born To Be Wild playing in his head. He made it to Sturgis no problem. But then a funny thing happened. Did you ever want something so bad, but when you got it, it’s not at all what you expected? Sturgis was filled with fake tough guys in leather chaps and women acting like complete trash. If you weren’t in a bike club, or with a group nobody would talk to you. Sad thing is I’m sure these were Doctors and Lawyers living out their fantasies. So he left the second night. He was two hours into his trip, when a work truck merged onto the highway and crossed two lanes. Why? We will never know. They didn’t stop. They sideswiped him and drove him off into the median. The bike slid on its side for 50 feet before the engine guard dug in and sent him flying. Dad survived. He is the toughest SOB I’ve ever met. No broken bones, just bruised head to toe. The bike was totaled. He spent one week in the hospital, then took a bus back to New York alone. That’s how he wanted it.
The motorcycle meant something to him. It stood for his dream. He was able to buy the damaged bike back from the insurance company as salvage. They cut him a check for the difference. Dad healed up over the winter months, then in the spring decided to look for another bike. His friend went to a police auction and bought three bikes to resell. Two white and one black. My dad really liked the black one but didn’t act on it. All 3 bikes sold in the first day. No problem. Plenty more fish in the sea. This was a low mileage, police issued, 100th anniversary edition bike, but oh well. Dad got a call the next day. The guy who bought the black one backed out. He returned the bike. My dad drove right down with the money. Six months after his accident he was back on two wheels. Real deal for a 65 year old man. But he never forgot about Big Red. We worked on it together. His friends pitched in and helped. Then a frame expert fixed the frame at no cost, because of my dads good reputation. Four years later Big Red was back on the road. He had no use for Black Betty so she moved into my garage.
When mom got sick she asked me to be her health care proxy. Meaning I made all her decisions if she wasn’t able. She signed a DNR order. Do Not Resuscitate or no living with assistance. I would visit her daily in the hospital for 8 months. We would share our favorite memories and talk for hours. As she got worse we didn’t talk much. I would feed her then watch her sleep. One day as I was heading toward her room I heard an unmistakable sound. Mom laughing. I rushed down the hall and found mom sitting up in bed with four of her friends around her. She was smiling ear to ear. I hadn’t seen her like this in a long time. I looked around at her friends they seemed as confused as me. I immediately became concerned. She called me over to her bedside. I sat and hugged her. “Don’t be sad Mat” she said ” I died. But it’s ok. God took me to heaven. It was so beautiful. It’s all true. Everything they say is all true!” This is crazy talk I tell myself. Just talk her down. She will be ok. She started to reach out and gently touch at something “Do you see that? God sent an angel to comfort me!” She had child like joy on her face. “Mom you are fine! You didn’t die, you are just confused!” I tell her. I’m crying now. She pulls me in tight, this dying women comforting me. She spoke in a very serious tone “God showed me everything. I had a stroke Tuesday and died. But it’s ok. I’m going to heaven to be with my mother.” This was on a Thursday. The following Tuesday she had a major operation scheduled. I figured this must be her vision. But she made it through the operation.
I have two sisters. My oldest has a daughter named after mom. My youngest had a daughter while mom was sick. Mom couldn’t see her in the intensive care unit. She was moms carrot at the end of the stick. Get better and you can hold your new granddaughter. She kept a big picture of her next to her bed.
Another week went by. One morning I got a call at work. Moms body was shutting down. They put her on life support. I needed to get there quickly. I waited for the whole family to arrive, then I had to sign paperwork saying to remove the life support as mom had asked me to. They unhooked her oxygen and she passed several moments later at 10:25 am surrounded by her family.
The next day my sisters and I returned to the hospital to get moms belongings. Her nurse came in the room to say she was sorry for our loss. The nurse saw my sister taking down the picture of her baby from by the bed. “Can I ask you something? How old is your baby?” Asked the nurse. “Six months old” my sister replied. “Your mom kept telling me she died the day her granddaughter was born. She is a baby. It didn’t make sense.” My other sister let out a loud GASP! “Yesterday was MY daughters birthday!” The one named after mom. So the facts are mom said God told her
- She died on Tuesday
- She had a stroke
- She died on her granddaughters birthday
Mom had a massive stroke at 2am, Tuesday September 27. Her granddaughters birthday. Everything happened exactly as she said it would. I challenge anyone to run the probabilities that this was all coincidence. Go ahead…
I took the little bit of money I got from an insurance policy and used it to record a demo CD for my band. This got us signed to a local label and we were able to travel around our corner of the country and play OUR bad rock music to literally a dozen people a night. We never made any money or had a brush with fame. But we played our music. I didn’t want to be that sad old guy who never went for his dreams. Live with no regrets. Eventually the band fizzled out. Everyone got married and had kids. Except my wife and I. We found out children weren’t in the cards for us. No little Gang members to make stupid dick jokes on the internet in the future. Life is funny and sometimes works itself out. No more pressure to provide for a child. You are groomed for parenthood your whole life. My dad is my best friend now. We hunt together, ride motorcycles together, and enjoy a few beers together. This was all stuff I assumed I would pass on to my children. Who will get my drum set, or my guns, or my motorcycles when I die? Who cares! It’s just stuff. You are not what you own. Your legacy isn’t based on possessions. Your legacy is built on the human connections you make in your lifetime. Time to make my own legacy. Recently I was invited to participate in The Most Legendary Entertainment Site EVER. I have found my place and my calling. To be part of the TGO team. My mom had a saying. Call a spade a spade. That means be honest and call people out on their bullshit. I am here to tell the truth, and to piss off those people who need to be pissed off. Maybe parenthood wasn’t in the plans for me. The man child lives on. Heavy metal mayhem will continue to fill my life. This Hellbilly will ride my Iron Horse as hard as I can into the sunset. Grab life by the pussy. Tell it you are the boss. You run the fucking show! Bottoms up TGO, you’re gunna need a few drinks to deal with my shit from now until Snake pulls the plug on me! 🍻🍺