Once again on this fine and lovely holiday weekend (it is Memorial Day on Monday here in the U.S), I find myself not “riding to the wall” (that is, participating in an event called “Rolling Thunder,” an event where motorcyclists from all over gather at the Pentagon and then ride through downtown Washington, DC, to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial for a ceremony honoring those who served, who died, and who remain classified as “MIA.”)
Nope, as usual, this weekend, I’m workin’ in da’ ‘Burgh.
I drove my spouse to spend the weekend with his mother at her home and the house my spouse grew up in, which is located in a small, decrepit, hard-scrabble suburb that borders the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
We will do a lot of maintenance chores, lawn and garden cleanup, and otherwise spend time with my mother-in-law. That is not so easy to do for a variety of reasons. However, I will turn on my charm, smile until it hurts, and get through the weekend. All for love… the love of my spouse and his commitment and dedication to his Mom. It warms my heart how much he cares, and this is but one thing I can do to demonstrate to him how I love him.
Why this weekend? Could I arrange this visit at another time so I could join the Rolling Thunder crowd? Well, it is fairly simple: I am working full-time. I do not have any vacation time built up. We need two full days at her place, plus travel time. It just makes sense to do this trip on a three-day weekend. We couldn’t do this long drive on a Saturday, all that work at the mother-in-law’s house, and drive back the next day. That type of driving and activity would be much too intense and exhausting.
If things were different and we did not go to Pittsburgh for the weekend, would I ride in Rolling Thunder? No, actually. The waiting time where bikers queue up is awfully long — as much as six or seven hours. With no place to sit or rest or get out of the sun, the discomfort factor is unbearable. Plus, when you finally get to go on the ride, by the time you arrive at the destination, the memorial event is over and there is no place to park.
Instead, if I were home, I would join the police-escorted ride from my home county toward the Pentagon, but before being directed into the parking lot where zillions of bikers queue up, I would peel off with a group of friends who are planning to ride further south to the Chesapeake Bay for seafood. Oh well, alas, I will not be able to do this.
But make no mistake — though I will not be participating in Rolling Thunder, I have recognized those who have served and especially those who have died while serving. Several in my family have served honorably — my Dad, brothers, uncles, and cousins. All were fortunate to return home safely. I placed flags at the graves of my Dad and uncles, and called or otherwise expressed my appreciation for the service of family who are alive. Freedom isn’t free and they should know that I am grateful for the sacrifices they have made for my freedom which I cherish.
Life is short: do what you have to do!