This isn’t Joey or Jeffrey writing. This time, it is the woman left behind, writing about that man she married 32 years ago. I guess you could call me the pit crew. You guessed it, I am referring to the pit in my stomach that emerges whenever this dynamic duo takes off on one of their mega bike rides.
While I am proud of our cyclist, his muse and the money they raise for Human Rights First, the pit crew (read me) is left home to worry that some jerk in a large motorized vehicle (read car or truck) will not see that on the side of the road our Jeffrey is riding with his non-speaking stuffed kangaroo, Joey. My fellow citizens of the world, this is a legitimate concern, n’est-ce pas?
I met Jeffrey at age 18 (a mere 38 years ago) when we were first year students at Duke University. It was a Friday night at Hillel. There were not many students who attended services regularly and a bond developed quickly between us. Typically, there was a short service, led by motorcycle Rabbi Bob (yep, he rode a Harley), followed by dinner. It was nice, low key with lots of conversation. Jeffrey was always gracious, though a bit shy (as was I, hard as that is for you to believe). With his bright red hair and strong views, Jeffrey definitely stood out as a nice guy with great values who treated everyone with respect.
Jeffrey would stop by my dorm room on days he went for a run around the nearby football stadium track. Always a gentleman, he was kind and polite. When I had a Ford Maverick, I would take Jeffrey shopping at the A&P. He ate little and shopped wisely to save money and balance his meager budget. We got to know each other.
I learned that Jeffrey lived by his values. While he was frugal, he was a caring guy, a good student interested in a variety of subjects, working hard in the cafeteria, and trying to finish college early. He wanted to be a lawyer. He was a good writer (compare his articulate blog posts to this rambling post) and a good friend. He wanted and still aims to make the world a better place. I admired Jeffrey then and still do. One cannot help but support a man who has spent his life helping others to little fanfare.
And now, on most days, I couldn’t get out the door to TIAA-CREF (my employer of 30 years) without Jeffrey’s loving attention and care. He prepares my breakfast and sees that I leave the apartment with as full deck of cards (and as few hot flashes) as a woman of my age might expect. And when I arrive at home after a long day, there is a fancy dinner, a glass of wine and lots of love and support.
You can now maybe imagine my worry.
The worry that comes from this adventure is diminished somewhat with the help of technology. I follow Jeffrey’s progress on my iPad. A pin drops on a map and I see the street on which he and Joey are cycling or stopped. I can see how many miles they have covered, over what terrain and how fast. If they aren’t moving or if their pace has slowed, a phone call can confirm they’re OK.
On occasion, I help Jeffrey with directions and hotel accommodations. I point out a better route or map out their next steps. I have called Jeffrey to say they have taken a wrong turn. Sometimes I beg them to stop for the night, seeing that the next hotel is many miles away. Of course, Jeffrey doesn’t always listen to the pit crew and there is only so much pressure I can assert from afar for a guy on a trike. As the ride proceeds and his route moves to more rural locales, I relax a bit and stop being glued to the map.
And so, it is with a bit of anxiety, but unwavering support and admiration that I ask you to help me bid bon voyage to the love of my life, my Mr. Jeffrey, and his kangaroo puppet, Joey. Let’s wish them Godspeed on their ride to St. Petersburg.
I hope that you will support the ride (it begins March 27), offer some words of support and encouragement and subscribe to Jeffrey’s intelligent and thought provoking blog.
–Nancy Freund Heller