Biographical Non-Fiction posted June 30, 2022


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Impact of events fifty years ago. (500 words)

Lessons To Be Learned

by LisaMay


When Barbara, my best friend, fell in love with one of our teachers in our final year of high school, I didn’t notice initially. I was distracted because I’d fallen in love with his motorbike!

As an adult looking back, I can see it’d be considered an inappropriate relationship for Barbara. She was barely eighteen, and Ron, our English teacher, was in his forties. (He was always 'Mr. Neville' at school.)

Lots of girls have crushes on caring school teachers, but Barbara’s and Ron’s mutual attraction was the real deal (not acted upon until after her schooling finished). To witness it flourishing through Barbara’s university years, then tragically cut short, taught me a lot about love, the transience of life, and the power of friendship.

I was the first girl in our high school to ride a motorbike to school. Mr. Neville lived in the same suburb as me. He’d noticed my interest in motorcycling and as he was restoring a classic Vincent Black Shadow he invited me to visit him at his home workshop and see what was happening. It was a big moment for me when he let me kick start the Vincent and it throbbed into life. My passion was ignited. He also taught me the practicalities of checking spark plugs, adjusting brake and clutch levers, and changing the oil for my own motorbike, thus enabling me to be self-sufficient for servicing it.

Meanwhile, Barbara, an academic student, didn’t approve of motorbikes, but her passion had been ignited by a meeting of minds with Ron. Yes, she was young, but their love did indeed seem to be a soulmate, twin flames thing. But what would I know? I was rather naive myself. My father knew of their relationship — he thought Ron was a ‘top bloke’. Barbara’s parents didn’t. She couldn’t face their judgmental opinions, so she moved out of home to live in a university hall of residence.

One summer vacation, Ron invited me to go on a road trip with both of them. During the journey, I could see how close their bond was. We drove west from Canberra to Perth and back east, across the Australian continent (around 7,400 kms or 4,600 miles in total). I did most of the driving, absolutely delighted by being on the road, going places. I fell in love with motoring travel.

Several months after we returned, Ron was killed in a motorbike accident by a drunk driver. Barbara lost her mind for a while; her grief was terrible. I was shocked into giving up motorcycling, but it had become my passion. The lure of the road was too enticing. Barbara eventually embraced life again, after my father helped put her back together, but she never got over Ron’s death. Fifty years later, she is still my best friend. Since then, I have always had two voices with me on my motorbike travels — Ron telling me to ride safely, and Barbara reminding me how valuable our friendship is.




 



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