What do you get an 84-year-old lady for her birthday? That’s what Carol Brown was thinking a few weeks ago. Her mother, June Pearce, was turning 84. The idea of buying and giving more stuff just didn’t appeal to Brown.
“When you’re 84, what is there?” she thought.
Pearce lives in a slow-paced retirement area near Lake Okeechobee in rural Florida. She’s been married to the same man, Fred, for 64 years. Pearce is a wife and a mother. She’s had a few strokes, which have robbed her mind of short-term memories. Lung cancer has claimed much of her strength.
But one memory has stuck with her: riding on the back of a boy’s motorcycle in the 1930s.
“I wasn’t scared at all,” Pearce remembers.
It was exciting, possibly one of the most thrilling moments of her life. Pearce remembered sliding off the bike and the pain of scraping her leg, but loving it just the same.
Brown thought of that story as she racked her brain, wondering what to do about the birthday. Then she had an idea.
“Come Give Granny A Ride On Your Hog,” she typed into an ad on Craigslist.
In the Internet posting, Brown asked if anyone would be willing to ride out and give Pearce a ride for her 84th birthday. She got one response, from a man named Ron Borowski. He said he’d ride his Harley-Davidson Low Rider — electric blue, with dark blue flames and a chrome kickstand shaped like a skeleton’s foot — from his house in Palm Beach County to June and Fred Pearce’s home, some 100 kilometres away.
“My mom passed away from cancer, so the ad touched me,” said Borowski, 45. “I just figured it would be an adventure.”
When Borowski arrived at June Pearce’s home and asked if she wanted to take a ride. Pearce shook her head — how on earth would she ever get on the bike? “No way,” she said firmly.
Borowski and Brown said they’d help her on. Pearce ran her hands on the black leather and, with a bit more coaxing, sat on the bike near the tank. She allowed her leg to be swung over the seat and then Borowski gently lifted her onto the back.
“I wish I was a lot younger,” Pearce said, adjusting her helmet.
She wrapped her arms around Borowski’s chest and he took off, slowly. They went around the block twice, and Pearce wore a tiny smile as they rumbled into the driveway.
“What we’re giving today is a memory,” said Brown. “She’s not going to get rid of it in a garage sale, break it or throw it away. Memories are the best gifts, I think.”