Many moons ago, I had the incredible privilege to ride with and meet my friend, Pat Blackman. I like to call her "Persistent Pat." Pat was almost always smiling and she just kept going, no matter what. I love her because to me she was so strong and had strength that many people dream of having. After meeting Pat, I was fortunate enough to meet her partner, Sherry. Sherry always had a smile and a joke. Pat and Sherry became part of my family. If there was something going on, they were there and smiling. They were at my Masters' graduation party, at my birthday/going away party or any other event. I always expected if our C4 family was going to get together then they would be there. Both of these women are incredible. If not for Ms Pat and Ms Sherry, I am not sure that Ride Without Limits-NC ride would have made it.
My friend, Pat, died this year. It was unexpected. We moved to another country and my heart was broken because I could not be there. Thankfully for my family from love, they shared it with me. Pat had strength that people could not express in words. She wasn't interested in winning or speed but getting to the end. She had many obstacles to overcome when cycling but she did it with a smile. Luckily, my friend, Leo, and I had the privilege of riding her first century with her. My friend and Spinning mentor, Furman, and I were able to ride her first 60 miler with her. She is/was truly amazing.
Sherry took some of my very first Spinning classes and I had the ultimate privilege of getting to know her. Sherry is another incredible woman. She overcame more hurdles in a few years that most people don't go through in a lifetime.
Pat and Sherry would have been together 20 years this coming January. They loved each other and it was apparent.
Tonight, I talked to Ms. Sherry. Honestly, I will tell you that I probably put off calling Sherry because I wasn't sure I could handle Pat's death and my broken heart. I was being selfish and wrong. Her strength after Pat's death is nothing short of AMAZING! Words cannot express how strong she is. Most people don't want to deal with normal bad stuff nevertheless death. Sherry has done that. She is still working on it but knows some days will be a struggle. But even more impressive is that she has the strength to admit that. I wish I could put into words her strength. There aren't enough words. Her strength makes me want to ride my bike a little further and be a little stronger mentally. AND admit that sometimes you need a little help to get through the really crappy stuff.
Riding my bicycle has brought me many joys but none ever so great as meeting people that can truly inspire you. Thank GOD for that. Folks, don't take that stuff for granted because some day it might just be gone. Ms. Pat never got too big for her britches and was the first to volunteer or be there. She helped so many riders become what they are today. Appreciate it because a lady like Ms. Pat and Ms. Sherry don't come along very often, if at all. I consider myself extremely lucky to have these wonderful women in my life... Ride on, my friends, ride on.