From all accounts, Dixie ABATE’s Ride to the Capitol on April 28th, 2012, in support of motorcycle safety and motorists’ awareness of motorcycles on Alabama’s highways and by-ways, was a huge success.  I’m thankful.  After having worked so hard on it, if it hadn’t been, I’m not sure how well I’d have handled it. 

It was hard for us to work so hard on planning an event, spend money out of our pocket to promote it, and then miss it, but in our list of priorities, family comes first, and we were able to be with ours during a time of great loss.  No regrets, we were where we needed to be. 

Martin’s brother, Paul, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, so we were in Pennsylvania for a week, missing the ride, but still calling in reminders to speakers and press, passing on information and updates to Matthew as it was reported to me on the morning of the ride, and supporting it to the end from 16 hours away. 

The message about safety and awareness got good press coverage and hopefully lives are richer for it.  My life is also richer for having an opportunity to be a part of this wonderful family. 

My fondest memories of Paul center on our ride up to Pennsylvania last July.  We were meeting him for breakfast, and as we pulled up and parked, I noticed an antique store across the road.  We were a few minutes early, so I hastily got out of my gear and walked over to check out the treasures in the shop window.  When we saw Paul, we walked back to the diner where we were met by their brother, Mike, and had a wonderful visit and a great breakfast.

As we ate, it began to rain, pretty heavily in fact, and so we sat for quite a while drinking coffee and visiting waiting for the rain to stop.  When we walked out to leave, I saw that in my haste to get to the antique store, I’d left my helmet, upside down, on the seat of my bike – during the rainstorm. 

I stood there looking at that helmet and wondering how I could have been such an idiot while Paul and Martin looked on without saying a word.  Finally, trying to keep a straight face, Paul, said, “If you turn it up the other way, the water runs off”.  That did it.  We lost it.  We’re standing there laughing our heads off as I poured a pint or so of water out of my helmet and plopped it on my head.

That evening, as we got ready to meet the family for dinner I told Martin that his brothers, most of whom are seasoned riders, would think I was a real idiot when they heard what I did.  He said he didn’t see how they’d know, to which I told him, “They’ll know”.  I knew we’d never make it through dinner without Paul sharing the story of my mishap.  Sure enough, we barely got sat down at the diner before Paul goes, “Do you know what she did?”  We lost it again. 

That is how I’m going to remember Paul Brady – laughing with me, and not at me, and making me, an only child, feel like part of his great big family.  I’m a better person for having known him, and I’ll never forget the camaraderie we shared that day.  He wasn’t with us in body for the meals and reminiscing this trip, but he was certainly there in spirit as we all celebrated the life and memory of Paul Brady.