While You Can

Excerpt 3 from What Remains:

It’s moving up on ten o’clock. Time to get on my way if I’m going.

I clean up the kitchen and pull on a boot, lace it up and pull on the other.

Then I freeze.

All the questions I’ve been swatting away turn back on me, less questions than bare-knuckled fears.

You are seventy-four years old, John. Are you sure you want to do this? Three thousand miles of back roads on a twenty-year-old motorcycle?

What happens if that bike breaks down in the middle of nowhere? Or you do?

Your back or your heart, out in desert west Texas?

I stand up and walk out onto the deck, the relief of motion. I don’t want to pretend. I’ve got some fears and a few hard-to-answer questions. Can I just be okay with that?

I’m down the steps now and walking out along the ridgeline to a point high above White Lake. It’s as calm today as Lake Michigan was last night, everything I am not. My long-deceased mother walks alongside — “When are you going to settle down, Johnny?” — shaking her head with sham exasperation, then breaking into a grin.

My father joins us, his sad, smiling grace as Parkinson’s takes his car keys, then his life.

“Do it while you can,” he whispers. “You can rest later.”

What Remains, page #9

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