July 4, 1959, was a day of celebration for most, but it turned out to be the most difficult day of my young mother’s life. She received news that morning that my dad had been killed by a drunken driver as he left Bethlehem Steel after working the night shift. He was on his motorcycle. She was left a widow with two children – a 3-year-old girl and a 15-month-old boy – because of a myriad of events that all collided on that day.

Over the years, my mom made it very clear that she did not want us to have anything to do with motorcycles. My brother bucked the system and bought a motorcycle. He lived in another state, so my mother did not have to contend with hearing of his escapades on the motorcycle. He has since given up riding.

Fast forward several years, to when I met my future husband. He has a motorcycle and he loves to ride. Our first date was a ride on his bike. I was so nervous, but he assured me that we would be fine, and we were. My mother was less than happy and did not want to hear anything about the fun times we had on the bike. So I respected her wishes and kept it to myself.

What I would have liked to tell her is how careful my husband is when he is riding. He is cautious and always aware of what is going on around him (and me). He has made the riding experience for me an exciting and wonderful time to share something he has a passion for.

I recently heard someone on the radio ask: How can cars and motorcycles co-exist on the road? There have already been a number of serious accidents this month on Western New York’s roads. How can we make it safe for both bikes and cars?

From my own observations, it is very easy. Be aware of what you are doing on the road – both motorcycle riders and car drivers.

Motorcyclists, do not speed and weave in and out of traffic. Drivers, keep a safe distance behind someone on a motorcycle. Also, do not decide you must turn in front of a motorcycle because you must get somewhere or do not want to wait. Respect and be aware of each other. Always use your turn signals to clearly indicate what your intentions are. My husband signals and uses hand signals to indicate he is turning. Be cautious when on the road!

Riding a motorcycle is a way of life for some people. The freedom of being on the open road is a call that a lot of people – young and old alike – answer.

I will continue to ride with my husband. I will also continue to say a prayer when I get on the bike: “Jesus, please bless us and make sure that we are safe on our ride today.”

I also know that my dad (and now my mom) are watching over us when we ride. My wish is that all riders can get out and enjoy themselves and then return home safely.

When fatal crashes occur, in addition to the loss of life, the people left behind suffer immensely. But do not delude yourself because if you are the driver involved, you will have to live with the awful feeling that you were somewhat responsible for someone losing his life because you were not paying attention or were not aware.

Harley Davidson’s motto is “Live to ride, ride to live.” This is a way of life for many riders, so please be aware!