I would like to tell you about Doctor Joe Hineman. Dr. Joe is 86 year young and just as of full of life as anyone half his age including me. He's a remarkable man.
Dr. Joe is a WWII vet who lost his left leg just below the hip in the battle of the Bugle. During the attack a mortar exploded in the trees above him and he took shrapnel to his leg. While laying in the hospital bed feeling sorry for himself and thinking life is over he kept hearing this other wounded soldier screaming. For three days he listen to this soldier scream in pain and all he could think of is how his life sucked now. But on the fourth day the screaming had stopped and it hit Dr. Joe that "hey I'm still alive." Yes the other soldier had lost his battle for life and died from his injuries.
So Dr. Joe set upon a life that many of us will never aspire to. He got home and went to school and got his Masters in dairy animal husbandry. He studied all he could about the profession and did it for, well to be honest I don't remember how long he told me but it was a long time. He retired but he didn't stop.
It was then that Dr. Joe decided he wanted to be a doctor. So back to school he went and got his Doctrine in Physiology . That's right Dr. Joe wasn't done learning yet. Years past and he meets his wonderful second wife, she too is something but that is another story for another time. Dr. Joe again did this job he loved very much for many years. All the while going to school to learn more about his profession. Once again Dr. Joe retires from this job at the rip age of I suppose seventy.
Now most of us would retire and find some place nice to sit and watch the sunrise and sunset with a some frosty beverage and a warm breeze. Not Dr. Joe. Instead he now volunteers at the local jails and VA hospitals helping those who need what Dr. Joe has. Dr. Joe also goes to the the Veterans Olympics in Colorado every year where he has won more medals then he can wear at one time. He skies, plays ice hockey and helps Vets returning from the wars of today to see that they are still very much people who have a lot to offer and many things in life yet to do.
One day some years back he walks into my shop and says, “fasthair I want to buy a bike.” Kind of shocked I stepped back a bit and looked at him and said “Doc if that is what you want to do then I think you should.” He goes on to tell me that this is something he has always wanted but never thought it was something he could do. You see that one leg thing was kind of slowing him down from this idea. After we talked about what he could buy since he would need reverse at the least and either a side car or some kind of out rigger set up it was decided that a Gold Wing was a perfect candidate. Out the door he goes and to be honest I never really gave it another thought.
Then some months later his wonderful wife, Dorothy, walked in my shop and asks rather sternly “Do you know where Joe is at?” Thinking she may have lost him, again, I tried to think of what day it was. She had called me once before to try and figure out where it was she had dropped off Dr. Joe. Since this was a Thursday I told her he was probably at his breakfast club with the boys to which she exclaimed “oh that’s right I dropped him off at the Hotel Fort Des Moines.” Needless to say I wasn’t ready for the answer she was about to give me to her own question.
“He’s out in Arizona buying a motorcycle because you said it was ok!”
Dr. Joe was in Arizona where his sons lived buying a brand new Gold Wing. His sons and him had researched the best way to set up an out rigger set up and which bike was best suited to his needs. I thought she was rather perturbed at me for supporting Dr. Joe’s desire of wanting to ride. As I tried to reason with her that is something Dr. Joe wanted and it would be helpful if she would support him and stand behind him in this new adventure towards how he moved forward from here on out. As much as all of this rather out of the blue conversation continued I made the comment “you know it would be great if you would hop on the back and go riding with him sometime.” Her next comment took me completely off my feet. “Hell with that, I want my own bike!”
Needless to say I knew at that point Mrs. Dr. Joe was really ok with his decision and wanted me to know that he was following through with his desire to ride a motorcycle. To this day the Misses still hasn’t got her own bike but good ol’ Dr. Joe still rides from time to time.
I had started to write this almost a year ago. It set in my drafts folder all this time waiting for me to finish it and give Dr. Joe the due justice he deservers. It was IronDads’ post about his friend Bryce who has made the hardest choice we as riders could ever face that got me to finish it. When to give up riding because we were no longer feeling safe in our ability to control a bike. I want Bryce to know that I really can’t imagine the torture he must have been going through to come to this point in his life. But I also wanted to show him that maybe there is still hope to be riding even if it is not in the same way he has enjoyed all of this time. It appears from his letter to IronDad that he is at peace with this tough choice. To which I will add I hope I can be that graceful when that time comes in my life.
God bless you Bryce.