Everything Dies

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.

4 thoughts on “Everything Dies”

  1. Do you have other chapters he wrote to his riding forum? I’d sure appreciate having them. Thanks

    1. I think I have what he wrote concerning his illness and last ride. I snagged the words and archived them in my Evernote database.

  2. I am the SCMA, Vice Chair and Co-Chair of the USA Four Corners Tour. The SCMA is the organizations that puts on the USA Four Corners Tour. A few months ago I was sent Jeff Parker’s postings. The posting created a lot of emotion for me and knew Jeff’s obsession with riding must have been overwhelming when the last thing you want to do in life is do a ride I spend so much time promoting and making enjoyable for over 100 registrants a year.

    It would be our honor to locate the family and the BMW rider who assisted Jeff in his final hours of completing his ride by inviting them to our 2014 banquet March 1, 2014. We’d like to honor Jeff, his family and the unknown BMW rider and present the family with a finisher’s plaque. Anything you can do to help us find Cynthia Vaughn, his daughter; or the BMW rider would be appreciated.

    If anyone can help me I would appreciate it!

    Thank you,

    Steven Shulman
    Vice Chair, SCMA

    1. Steven, my hope is that somehow this note reaches the intended recipients. Thanks for dropping by and my best in your quest to find these individuals.

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