« Drumroll, Please | Main | Knockturn Alley »

Forty and FineJune 3, 2008

Lala's birthday was yesterday. She turned forty, and she rode the longest leg of the AIDS Lifecycle on the same day. That was taking a chance, to combine those two things, since she has been equating forty with OLD. (Let me make it clear that I don't think forty is old, nor does she think other people over forty are old. But for her, OLD. I debated whether to get her a walker, and then I remembered she already has one (she uses it to hold her lap steel at shows)).

I wasn't sure how Mom would be doing, so I didn't totally commit to being able to see Lala on her birthday. But yesterday afternoon was okay, so I left Mom in the capable hands of Mom's best friend and both my sisters, and drove up the coast, two hours north to King City, where the ride ended for the day.

We'd guessed that Lala would ride into camp late in the day, since she'd called and said she'd had a really late start. The route closes at seven o'clock, and anyone still riding past a certain point is swept into buses and driven into camp. Lala did NOT want this. This would not make for an easy transition, in her mind, to OLD.

I got there about 5:30pm. I stood on the corner, at the last turn the riders made before riding straight into camp, where food, showers, and sleep were waiting after their 105 mile trek. I cheered and hollered, and the motorcycle crew guy I was with let me use his flag. "300 yards to camp! Right turn! Downhill! You made it! Congratulations!"

Most of the riders grinned as they rode past. Some screamed with joy. Some were astonished, having given up guessing how close they were to the finish hours before. Some proposed marriage. Others were so far inside their own minds they gave no indication of hearing us, they were just concentrating so fixedly on making their bodies turn the pedals. Blank looks. I worried about their motor coordination.

The motorcycle crew guy, Ron, told me a story. He rode on the first ride, and has been doing moto crew ever since. He was directing traffic by himself out on 101, near Goleta, before it reaches the ocean. In a break between riders, a woman pulled her car over. She ran on the shoulder back to him and without saying anything, wrapped her arms around him and held on. After they hugged a while, she said that she'd been driving past the riders and had to say thank you to someone -- her uncle's partner had just died of AIDS, and she needed to thank them for what they were doing, out there, riding single-file on the freeway.

Already having a weepy day, that sure set me off.

I cheered for more riders and got more brilliant smiles and whoops of joy.

Six o'clock.

Six-thirty. Still no Lala.

Seven o'clock. Ron's wife, who was directing the last turn on the ride before this one, came in. No one left behind her, only the couple hundred riders still on the road between her old post and his. Everyone else behind THEM was being picked up by the buses, she guessed maybe two or three hundred of them.

So Lala would make it or she wouldn't. I searched for that magic combination of yellow jacket, pink helmet, and you'd be ASTONISHED at how many of those there were. I'd get my hopes up, and even think it was her, but the mouth wasn't right, and I'd just barely stop myself from yelling her name. It's honestly weird how so many of them looked so much alike, even close up. With the helmet, sunglasses, and bike clothes, you really only have to go on nose, mouth and chin to identify your loved one cycling by. It's not as easy as I thought it would be.

More riders. Still no Lala. I started to make contingency plans in my head. What would cheer up a newly 40-year old person who didn't finish the day's ride? They can't drink on the ride, so that's right out. Food, sure, but would she be able to stop snuffling long enough to eat it?

Then, yes, I think so....

It was Lala! Looking seriously H.O.T.T. Mmm, my sporty SPICE! And even better, she was one of the relaxed riders! Grinning! My yelling her name didn't make her fall off her bike, she just beamed and pulled up next to me, gave me a kiss. She'd had a GREAT ride. Even though she started so late she'd worried she might not make it, she'd passed a ton of people and enjoyed everything she saw along the way. She went to park her bike and grab her bag, and I stayed with Ron, and cheered people in with new enthusiasm. Lala had made it! So could they! And lots more, another half-hour's worth of riders filing steadily in, did make it. The "caboose" rider finally came in -- you knew she was the last for the day, because she was being followed by the Caboose vehicle. Literally driving right behind her ass. I said to Lala later, "Wouldn't that be awful? To know you were the last person?" She said, "No, she knows she's the last person not be swept by buses. She's thrilled."

I took her to her birthday hotel (no sleeping on the ground on a birthday, Rachael will not stand for that, no), and she took a hot shower, and washed some clothes. We went to a really nice restaurant and had steak and potatoes. I think she ate two potatoes, actually. She had chocolate milk.

By the time we got back to the room, she was too tired to eat the cake I'd brought her. We both slept all night, a beautiful sleep that we both desperately needed. It was really, really good.

Today she's riding from King City to Paso Robles, and tomorrow she'll be passing close by to Mom's house, from Paso to Santa Maria, so I plan to be out of the route again, looking for that yellow/pink combo of hotness and youthful determination. The walker can wait.

(Speaking of walkers, Mom's hanging tough. It must be your thoughts and prayers -- today, on no morphine at all since yesterday, she's sleeping a gentle sleep with peaceful breath, and when she's awake she has very little pain. At all. It's a miracle we'll accept with open hands and hearts.)


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Forty and Fine:


Congrats to Lala. That is something I could never do even when I was forty.
Sorry I haven't commented on your posts about your mother. My mother died on May 26th and I'm having a hard time with it. I know it was her time I just miss her terribly.
You and your sisters are doing a great thing for your mother. I wish you all the best.Here's hoping she has many more pain free days with all of you.

Congratulations Lala!! Happy Birthday!
To Rachel: What a well written and inspirational tale of 40 year old strength and courage! Thanks for sharing it -

Best wishes to both of you and may your little mama continue to be peaceful and resting so well..

Woo hoo, for you both! And still singin' my Irish song for yomama.

Dude, woo-hooooooooooooooooo! for Lala!! Of course she rocked it. Happy birthday to her, and hugs to you - I remember seeing my sis in her first marathon, and how fun and inspiring it was to watch all those folks go by. Well, you know how awesome it is to be on the other side, receiving the cheering, too. :)

And hugs and love and peace to your fam and your Mama. I think there are lots of people all over the world thinking about her and praying for her.

I don't even know what to say - Lala's ride, your mom, sounds like everything's good for now. Congrats to Lala and happy birthday!

What a tremendous affirmation of life, to have Lala succeed so gracefully at the AIDS ride. Lots of birthday love to your girl. And lots of love to you and your family, as well.

Sounds like good news all around! A very happy birthday to Lala. I'm glad to hear that your mom is having easier days and getting to spend time with her friends and daughters. Hugs to you and yours!

Great news about your mom! Yay!

And Happy Birthday LaLa, way to kick @ss and have a great time doing it!

Happy Birthday, Lala! What a great story. And I'm glad to read your mom's not in pain; truly a miracle.

Alright Lala!!! Sounds like a darn good bday to me :) I'm doing the Avon Walk in July and can only hope for this good a walk :) Glad to her your mom is doing better...will continue to send the good vibes your way :)

Alright Lala!!! Sounds like a darn good bday to me :) I'm doing the Avon Walk in July and can only hope for this good a walk :) Glad to her your mom is doing better...will continue to send the good vibes your way :)

Awww, that's just nothing but awesomeness -- the birthday, coming in ahead of the buses, etc, etc, and your mom doing well . . . sheesh, girl, you know how to make a reader well up with tears!

Also, happy birthday to Lala!

Such a wonderful post! Congrats to Lala both on her bday and on doing the ride. Sounds like you've both had a blast.
I hope your mom will continue doing better and that she'll catch a break soon.
I wish you all the best and will keep your mom in my prayers.

Your non stalker from Denmark who's still reading every single post :o)

I did my first century (100 mi bike ride) the day after I turned 40. Go Lala!!! And happy birthday!

I can't tell you how great it is to read this today. All of it. Thank you, dearheart, and happy belated to Lala.

That is so awesome! When do the aids riders hit LA, and where? I'd like to drop by and do some cheering myself.

Go Lala go Lala, go Lala it's your birthday, go Lala, go Lala (waving around the hands, singing and dancing for her now!) She is so awesome! And I totally get being at the cabouse as I was one of the LAST runners in a marathan and when you get to that point, you JUST...HAVE..TO..MAKE ..IT! and of course we all knew Lala would but it was so wonderful to hear the great news. And I loved how she just breezed in with a smile and gave you a kiss - so beautiful!
I'm so glad your mom is stable and comfortable, may you all find peace in the joyous and comfortable times...
hugs and peace to you all...

Congratulations to you both! What a way to beat the 40th birthday blues!
Love and Hugs to you both, and peace and prayers to Little Mama.


Lala's a Gemini.

I knew it :-)

Rock the 40, baby. 41's starting out just as good on this coast.

You and Lala always make me happy. Happy birthday to her, best wishes to you and your family.

When will the riders be in Santa Barbara / Goleta? Will they pass L.A.? I want to cheer them on, too. It's wonderful what they're doing.

Congrats and belated HB wishes to Lala!!! Being on the "other side" of 40 can say that it gets better. 41 wasn't as bad, 42 was better, etc...
Life is good!

Yeah Lala. And Happy Birthday too!
Good thoughts still coming your way.
And a line from a fab movie:
"Peace, Love, Dope!"

It sounds like a beautiful birthday. I'm so glad you got to be there cheering her on.

Wonderful post! I'm wishing Lala a happy birthday, your mom more peace, and all of you by her side strength and love.

We have a photo of the two of us running a half marathon. We both have big grins on our faces. The thing you can't quite see is the van just behind us, about to ask if we need that lift. We said no, and completed in under 3 hours. The caboose thing can be a real lift!

Good for Lala. Hope she has as much fun for the rest of the ride.

Happy belated birthday, Lala! I'm 42, and not even close to old, so she's in good shape. :)

Continuous good thoughts and prayers for your mama. Hugs!

Happy, happy birthday to the Banjo Girl! (i'm still allowed to call her that, right?) and congratulations on the big ride accomplishment.

Still sending Janette and all of you much love and light. double glad the peace is working...

It is Ok that I did not win the socks, I gave for you and the happiness that flows from your writing, even when times are hard. Your Mom is in my prayers and peace is a wonderful gift. Everyday I say my gratitudes for love and laughter and joy in my life.
Lala rocks. I don't even want to ride 105 miles in my car!
Warm regards,

Happy birthday to LaLa!!! That AIDS ride is really incredible. Sounds like she had a great birthday ride!

Happy Birthday Lala and congrats on the ride woohoo!

Love you and thinking about you and your family. So glad Lala had a good birthday and you both got some rest.

You two are my heroes. (This week, and just generally speaking.) I even tried to blog a few days ago about the heroic strength of my friends and family, (two of whom are you, of course, in both categories,)but of course, since it was a deeply felt, serious blog, with emotions heavily attached, the stupid typepad monster ate it before it could be published. Stupid typepad. Grr. We are currently dueling... I think typepad is winning.

Anyhoo, you are, in fact, the best of the best- the strongest of the strong. You are such good family to everyone, and we are all so lucky and blessed to have you in our lives.

Extra love to your Mama, Rachael. Your Dad, too.
Don't forget an ice pack for Lala's studly butt at the end of the ride. ;)

I love you, Hehus! Come back safely and soon. xo

You are both so awesome. I'm eating lunch at my desk and I have tears in my eyes.

I'm keeping your mom in my thoughts.

Congrats to LALA!!!! And Happy Birthday too!!!!

Happy Birthday and congratulations to Lala. Peace, strength and love to you and your family. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Forty and fabulous! We would expect nothing less than that from Lala. Happy birthday to her.

Many many good thoughts to your mom also.

Congratulations to Lala and Happy Birthday!!! And many many thanks for doing the Aids ride. You both rock. 40 isn't OLD, it's wise and mature. I'll see you there next year.

WOO HOOOOOOOOOOO! Way to go, Lala! And what a wonderful way to end the day, with your most loved one, a great dinner, and a perfect night's sleep - you guys rock!

Excellent post! Happy Birthday to Lala. It'll always be a memorable one.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


Subscribe to Rachael's mailing list

knitting projects

DSCN13632.jpg Email me