CLC 18: returning to normal

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Well folks, its been a tough time getting to the start line this year. I got a call from my sister in Ann Arbor that our father had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and that he only had two weeks to live. I got on the first plane I could from Paris for Detroit and was able to be with dad for a few last moments. He outlasted the doctor’s prognosis by two weeks, but the end was inevitable. Les and I cared for him as best we could, but she really did all the heavy lifting. When I got back to Burgundy he had slipped into a coma and he died a couple of days later. At 94 years old he had lived a full and vigorous life. Until the events which led to his diagnosis he had rarely been sick, and he had still been able to play golf and drive himself everywhere right up to the end. We should all be so lucky. Now, after a week or so of rest and a lot of reflection, I’m trying to get some normalcy back in my life. I will miss the old man dearly, but I need to get back into life and live it as fully as he would.

So this is a brief account of my first ride back home. Its nothing special, but its what I do every day or almost and its part of a routine that structures my life.

Home for me is this little house at the very edge of the vineyards. The green shutters are new last year and are pvc because I am tired of painting the old wood ones. Most importantly, they are functional serving to keep the weather out.. I know lots of homes in the US have fake shutters as decoration. But why? Seems to me that those in hurricane or tornado country might find them useful.

My ride is 1.5 km to the bakery. And 1.5 km home. My  shopping bike knows the way by heart. I ate the evidence, and it was good.

Old fogy from France. Rides bikes and eats.

14 response to "CLC 18: returning to normal"

  1. By: Suzanne Posted: March 18, 2018

    Sorry to hear of your loss, but good to hear that your father lived a full and vigourous life almost to the end. And it’s good that you are back out living your life.
    Nice to see a picture of your house in Burgundy.
    Cheers,
    Suzanne

    • By: Bikerdockeith Posted: March 19, 2018

      Thanks for the Kind words Suzanne.
      Its a small house, but we like it. But like all houses, the repairs never end. I attribute that to the second law of thermodynamics.
      Cheers,

      Keith

  2. By: Seasidejanet Posted: March 18, 2018

    So sorry to hear about your Dad. Sounds like he was a lot like mine who made it to 95. I am so glad he didn’t suffer long. I know you’ll miss him and think of him often as you ride along. I find a big smile on my face sometimes in the middle of a ride and then realize in the back of my mind he is talking to me. Wonderful house….

    • By: Bikerdockeith Posted: March 19, 2018

      Hi Janet,
      Yes, I will miss him. Its kind of strange finding oneself an orphan at the ripe old age of 67. As I get older I find that there is a whole host of people who flash through my head on my rides. It was a privilege to have known them all.
      Cheers,
      Keith

  3. By: Tony Cullimore Posted: March 18, 2018

    It is good that your Father was able to enjoy life into his 90’s – my Mum hung around for her last 4-5 years (to 92) not enjoying things much.

    Last night we had dinner with 2 French girls from Marseilles. This is unusual in Tasmania – they are here for a year off nursing and are working in the local Strawberry nursery at the moment. The connection to your post is that you rode to the bakery and they were telling us about their difficulties finding bread to their taste here. They have found acceptable stuff at JJ’s Bakery in Longford but nothing like a “proper” baguette.

    • By: Bikerdockeith Posted: March 19, 2018

      Hi Tony,
      Yeah, my mom suffered from Alzheimer’s in her last year. It was neither pretty nor pleasant. Dad cared for her until the burden became too great, but he visited her every day until she passed. His end, all things considered, was relatively quick, and with significant help from modern medicine mostly painless.
      One of the most common complaints I hear not just from French people but from anyone who finds themselves in foreign climbs is the unavailability of “proper” bread. I will say, however, that I personally never missed American white bread. Did les filles mention croissants? Now those are something I really crave when abroad. I have met a fair number of French folk who have been to Oz. I suspect that its Tazzie that’s not so popular. Perhaps it should be.
      Cheers,
      Keith

    • By: Bikerdockeith Posted: March 19, 2018

      Thanks for the kind words Tempo. Fond memories, indeed.
      Cheers,
      Keith

  4. By: The Navigator Posted: March 19, 2018

    So sad for you upon reading of your loss. It is so good you were able to make it back to America to say goodbye, though. The distance from loved ones makes grief a funny thing for expats – so I wish you all the best in healing. Sounds like your dad had an amazing life – thanks for sharing. I wish we could take some of your rain – it is so terribly dry here. The wineries here are in full harvest mode though – so they don’t want any rain for another few weeks yet. Hope you dry out soon, Em

    • By: Bikerdockeith Posted: March 19, 2018

      Thanks Em,
      It is different being so far away. I am sorry that dad never did see France, but mother’s illness and then his own prevented him. And so it goes.
      Do take care,

      Keith

  5. By: Scooter Posted: March 19, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Keith. It must have been a comfort to be able to return home in time to share some final moments together. It’s one of the things that worries me about being on the road as much as we are – that we’ll hear sorrowful news too late to act on it. Both of my parents are thankfully still well and with us, but of the same vintage as yours. It’s a reminder to make time while we can.

    Great to see you on the bike again, floods and all!

  6. By: Bikerdockeith Posted: March 19, 2018

    Hi Scott,
    Thanks yourself for the support. There are always airplanes to get you home when needed. Not always easy or cheap, but they are there. And its getting easier and easier to stay in touch. So count your blessings, and guard the time you have for family.
    Cheers,
    Keith

  7. By: gregblood Posted: March 23, 2018

    Hi Keith,

    I’m just starting to catch up on my Cycle365 reading and I saw your sad news about your dad. I want to add my condolences to those of all the others you’ve received. I see you use one of the same coping mechanisms I do–a bicycle riding routine that gives structure to your life. It really works.

    Your Minnesota buddy,

    Greg

    • By: Bikerdockeith Posted: March 23, 2018

      Thanks Greg,

      The experts say exercise is good for depression. Who am I to argue? Of course, there’s also Tim the cat who is very generous with his time and affection even if he does drool and fart when he’s in my lap. Friends and family are priceless though, and I truly appreciate the good wishes of all.

      Cheers,

      Keith

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