During the last few weeks I followed the last travels of a Jeff Parker. Jeff was a BMW rider and was part of the internet BMW riding community. He’s well known to many of the long-time denizens of that eclectic and curmudgeonly group.
A few weeks ago, Parker announced he was diagnosed with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is bad. Stage 3 means it’s time to bend over and kiss it goodbye. There is nothing to do but be comfortable and meet one’s end.
Parker elected to give things one last go. He decided to do a four-corners ride. That’s long-distance rider slang for the four corners of the lower 48 states of the U.S. It’s not a ride to be taken lightly. It’s certainly not a ride to be taken lightly when one is dying from pancreatic cancer.
But ride it he did. He posted to the list a couple-three times with updates on progress. A few days ago, somewhere in Arizona, he could not go on. The pain was sufficient that he was no longer fit to ride. He called a few folks from the BMW Anonymous Book (a publication with contact information of BMW riders but no names), met them for supper, and asked if any of them could/would help him finish the ride.
One of them could. So, Parker rode second seat the remainder of the way to the last corner of his ride. He then put his benefactor on an airplane, went home, and went under hospice care. He was comfortable and calm when he posted his last message to the IBMWR mailing list.
I don’t think anyone minded that there was not much of the obligatory BMW content. Parker wrote to say he finished his ride, literally and figuratively. It was his last post.
His daughter posted to the group yesterday late that Jeff Parker died from his cancer.
So what, one might think… people die everyday. It is true that everything dies, at least everything living. We all come to an end sometime.
The cancer is rather close to home. I lost Wife to cancer last January. But I am impressed by Parker’s approach. He saw his end coming and did something deliberate. He decided to go for a motorcycle ride. It wasn’t just any motorcycle ride, but a four-corners ride to all four corners of the continental U.S. It’s about a 10,000-mile ride.
It’s not something to be undertaken lightly. It’s physically and mentally challenging. Parker decided to do it while dying from pancreatic cancer. That’s both deliberate and ballsy.
He finished the ride before the cancer finished him. He had help at the end, but it still counts. He had the courage to take on a thing he wanted to do, but had not done. That courage speaks volumes to me and I hope to others.
Godspeed, Jeff Parker.