Jerry is Sarah and Joel’s “Dad” and “Pappy” to a multitude of grandchildren. And for more than forty-five years, Jerry has been my “friend closer than brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Jerry is an old hippie who’s afraid to be normal, but I’ve assured Jerry, time and time again, that he has nothing to fear.
Jerry met his wife, Melanie (Mel), in the early 70’s while hitchhiking with his friend Mike from Ft. Wayne, Indiana to “Icthus”, a Christian music festival in outdoors in Wilmore, Kentucky. Jerry reflected, “We caught a ride outside Lexington with a man who had a gun planted in the seat of his car. He asked us where we were going and when we told him “to a Christian music festival”, he replied: “I don’t know anything like that. When he stopped at a red light, Mike and I spotted a sticker on the car in front of us that said, “Honk if you love Jesus,” so we jumped, ran to the car, and jumped in. happened, that Mel and a group of friends from Portsmouth were also heading for Icthus. Jerry smiled and added, “Mel was kinda cute.” The rest is his story.
Jerry is a motorcycle enthusiast with a “need for speed”. His love for motorcycles is a family tradition. His father, “Ace”, owned an Indian dealership in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and a BSA dealership in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Jerry reflected, “I remember driving a Motoguzzi with a sidecar down the driveway behind my dad’s garage. I was then about fifteen years old and weighed only one hundred and twenty pounds. The bike was really heavy and I couldn’t hold it without the sidecar. I’ve also ridden other bikes dad had, but didn’t have a bike of my own until I moved to Portsmouth (when I was nineteen). I bought a Yamaha 100 dirt bike and rode it a lot with my friend Mike. When I moved to Van Wert a few years later, I bought a Suzuki T 500; it was a two-stroke. Later I bought a Suzuki GS1100E, which was the fastest road bike ever made at the time. It would go 140 miles per hour. I mounted the wheels of this bike.
Jerry’s enthusiasm for bikes and horseback riding has persisted over the years and when Jerry was forty-five I got a call. Jerry said: “I always wondered if I could be good at racing, if I had what it takes to be competitive or not? I’m thinking of going to flight school, but some people think I’m too old or it’s too dangerous. What do you think?” I suggested, “You never know what you can do until you try. The question is, can you be satisfied and never know it?
Well, Jerry took the plunge, he entered into the adventure. He enrolled in the Road Atlanta racing school, trained for two days, and raced on the third day. He affiliated with the Western-Eastern Racing Association (WERA) and after a few seasons qualified for the National Grand Finals at Road Atlanta. Jerry finished seventh nationally in the Lightweight Twins category. A few years later, Jerry and I stood trackside at Road Atlanta and watched his fifteen-year-old son, Joel, place second in the nation.
Jerry and I reflected on his decision, at the ripe old age of forty-five, to take the plunge. Again, I suggested, “It just shows you that you never know what you can do until you try.” Then Jerry replied, “No Loren, it’s much more than that.” You will never know who you are until you try.
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), American physician, author, poet and inventor wrote: “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are still preparing to live. Before they know it, time is running out.
Kristy Sellars, a young Australian mother, dancer and creative multimedia artist, placed second on “America’s Got Talent” this year (2022). The judges were stunned and said they had never seen anything like her performance before. During an interview (YouTube), she explained: “These ideas are in my mind and they won’t leave me alone until I create them… If you want to do something bad enough, you will find a way, you’ll find a way… I do it because it’s my passion.
Is there an idea in your mind that won’t leave you alone? For God’s sake, don’t die with our music still inside us, because we’ll never know who we are until we try.
“The morning sows your seed, and the evening does not withdraw your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, or this or that, or whether both will prosper equally” (Ecclesiastes 11:1-6).
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at (740) 357-6091 or [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have done the course,” on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.