Hi Sam,

I just read your article and felt the need to send my thoughts…

I worked for a company in Redwood City and the receptionist said one day, “You should meet my younger sister, I think the two of you would get along great.” What she neglected to tell me was that her sister lived in Southern California and had a six-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter. Well, we met a few months later when she was in the Bay Area for her sister’s birthday. We sat and talked all night long. She was going to drive home the following day, but ended up coming home to SF with me and staying an extra three days.

That started a long-distance romance – I either drove or flew down every other weekend and three years later, when her daughter graduated high school, we made ‘the commitment’ and they all moved up to my place – her, two kids, a dog, two cats and some goldfish. Six months later, we were married at her brother’s home in the Hayward hills by an ex–hooker turned minister! Going from a bachelor to a husband and stepparent had it’s challenges, but we survived.

In December 2001, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and that turned our lives upside down. After a few surgeries, chemo and all, she was able to ride again and realized what was important in life and began to travel more than before. But, a couple years later the cancer had metastasized and she had to undergo more chemo and radiation as well. Once she completed all that and felt a little better, we knew that we may not have many more chances and life is definitely too short, so…. We took a cruise to Alaska, a trip to New York and many three to four day rides, until it was just too uncomfortable for her. Sadly, she passed away April 11, 2009. That summer, I rode to Colorado with some buddies, then on to Sturgis. Later that year, I went to visit my older brother in Hawaii.

I still work here in the Bay Area (for a couple more years), but since 2009, I have ridden all over the Western states on an annual basis and continue to visit my brother in Hawaii. Enjoy it while you can!

Thanks for the reminder—Mark Gross


Many of the things I write about in my column are universal to all of us. When I hit a nerve with someone I know my job has been successful. “Q-Tips” was a story about both travel and lost love, two things that most of us have experienced. I hope the memories “Almost Fiction” invoked were warm comfortable.

Thanks for your comments.

—Slippery Sam


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