19 August 2018

And with that… we reached the 4000 mile mark

Sharmila was out for five days. I could not take the motorcycle out. Well, I could have but was too scared to. The first thought that always went thru my mind was “What if something happens to me? Who is going to pick Nikita up from school?” 🙂

Well, she came back last night (actually early this morning – that too without her suitcase but that is a different story altogether). This morning took the bike out for a spin and came back home totally drenched in the rains.

But reached the 4000 mile mark, nonetheless!!

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12 August 2018

First bike ride thru some good rains

Nobody in our group was ready to bike today. Luckily, Avi’s tennis match was canceled – else I was going to have to ride all by myself.

Rode up to Helen and had lunch at a restaurant by the river. The real fun was on our way back. For about 5 miles, we got completely drenched by a good bit of rain. Unfortunately, we were on the highway by then and there were not too many places to pull over to. We just kept going.

The low visibility with the raindrops splattering on the helmet visor made sure our speeds were slower than normal. I, of course, was scared stiff of any hydroplaning. But what was really making me miserable was how cold it was feeling on the skin – drenched like a drain rat and then the wind hitting us continuously (we were riding at around 60 mph (100 kmph)).

We kept pulling thru – all the time I kept myself warm thinking of how I was going to jump into the hot tub once I reached home.

This being, Atlanta, I did not have to worry about any such thing. In about 5 miles, we hit broad sunlight. There was not a drop of water on the road. Back to hot and humid weather.

With speeds picking up and the sun beating down, the clothes were dry before we knew it.

That was a good trip, all in all. Gained a little more confidence in riding in the rain…

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28 July 2018

That was a pretty unique ride…

First off, we had the most number of people show up – 11. There were riders born in Colombia, riders born in Mexico, riders born in India, riders born in the USA and I think one rider was born in East Africa.

For me this was the longest ride – nearly 200 miles. Crossed the 1000 mile ride in a month mark for the first time. And did the Suches route for the first time too!!

With all the breaks and all, it took us over 6 hours or so.

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27 July 2018

By now, you would think I should be used to it… but I am not.

As exciting as it is to spend time with and help hospice patients, the one inevitable thing you are signing up for is that eventually they will move on from this world. After going thru over half a dozen such patients transitioning in the last nine months that I have been working with hospices, you would think that I would be used to it. And yet, the hard truth is that you never get used to it. Each and every one of them hits you and hits you true. No amount of reminding yourself everyday of the finiteness of life ever prepares you to deal with it when the end actually presents itself.

I was in California earlier this week. After the meetings, I noticed that there was a mail in my box titled “Mr. Forrester” (name changed). I quickly opened it and read that he was “declining”. “Declining” in hospice speak means you are now transitioning. It is a matter of hours or at best a couple of days. I responded quickly that I had seen him the previous Thursday and will swing by moment I was back in Atlanta.

I should not have bothered about it. For five emails later, there was another email informing me that I was not going to get a chance to see him again.

The flight back seemed much longer than it really was. I was given charge of Mr. Forrester about three months back. Towards the beginning, he was able to speak somewhat coherently. I had read up on his case study. He was a Colonel by rank who had seen active duty for some time. One day, I had visited him when his daughter was there too. She had sat me down and told many a story of her dad.

I knew that he was deteriorating rapidly. He could barely talk. Whatever little he did, he was completely incoherent. The last day when I saw him, he was constantly drooling and could barely lift his head. He lifted it once and cracked a smile. It was mostly quiet time with me asking him gently about small stuff and he taking quite some time before nodding to indicate yes or no.

This picture is from a few weeks back (he is the one closest to you). That was the best spirits I had seen him in. We had some very old songs put on the TV (you will be amazed what Spotify can do !!). Many of the patients like him seem to get energized – some – like him – even tried to sing along.

The hard part of getting to know each one of them and their life story is realizing that you will not see them again. I will still go to the hospice and meet others but he won’t be there. I will, by habit, poke my head into his room and realize that somebody else is there. I will probably go in and talk to the new patient too (I do not have to confine my time only to those that have been assigned to me). But it would not be Mr. Forrester.

Sometimes those long hours with somebody like Mr. Forrester where you are essentially having one way conversations among bouts of awkward silence can be trying. And then you realize in times like this – that was so much better than now – when you do not even have him to go sit next to.

And yet, that is by design. If you accept life, you have to accept death. Presence can be defined only in the context of absence. A journey eventually will end in its destination.

One just hopes that in those walks pushing him in the wheelchair in the yard, in those helping with Kleenex to clean the drool, in those squeezing of his hands before leaving, in those putting a blanket on him when his hands got cold, in those feeding him with the afternoon snacks… somewhere, somehow, one made the journey a wee bit easier…

13 July 2018

From never having touched a motorbike to…

… 3000 miles (5000 km) in 6 months…

While most of the fear of falling has gone, I still stiffen up on the right turn leans. Especially in the mountains when I cannot see around the corner. A downhill sharp turn – left or right – is still a terror.

But overall enjoying myself in it so far…

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