#45 In Roads-Patriot
I notice a bike sitting in the parking lot. There are tall poles mounted on the back and I know there’s a story here. He’s on the phone, taking notes, when I go into Mickey D’s. It seems serious so I wait a bit before approaching. We start off talking about his motorcycle and the flags he’s carried for the past five years as a Patriot Guard, and the memorial service he’s just attended. The quiet man with a serious side says there have been way too many such ceremonies lately. The notes he’s taking are for another funeral that he will escort later this week.
He says he bought his first motorcycle, a Harley, in 1960. I ask if that was when he returned from war. He looks at me sideways and nods. Ben is a vet who was stationed in Korea and says he was concerned that he would be called back to duty for Vietnam but wasn’t. He says he lucked out and I agree. He’s currently a member of five different organizations and has a vest for each, but not all have as many pins as he displays on the one he’s wearing. He gives me an American flag pin for my own leathers. He’s involved in the renovation process for the local Moose lodge. “The mind tells me I can do all this work, climbing up and down ladders and spackling etcetera, but my body tells me every morning that I can’t,” he shakes his head and smiles. I’m shocked when he tells me he is 75 years old. I would have guessed much younger.
I ask about his wife and the smile fades. “I was married for 27 years before my wife passed from cancer. We had services here but then we carried her back to her family in Hawaii,” Ben looks at the floor for several seconds before he continues. “I’ve been a single man for 24 years but recently a young lady caught my eye. I’m engaged now.” There’s a little twinkle in his eye as the smile returns and he shakes his head in disbelief. I marvel at the fact that love has no age limits and congratulate him on his new romance. We shake hands before I leave, but I really just wanted to hug the man who spends so much of his time in the service of others. I’m overwhelmed with respect, and left Ben with a wish for every happiness in the next chapter of his life.