How do I begin without starting at the beginning of my journey, of lost acceptance, of healing.

3 years ago I heard an old friend, Jim Gordon, a soldier I served with was doing this ride across Canada and would be in Barrie. I made a point of meeting him for breakfast at Indian Motorcycle and just saying hello. After that very brief reconnection the seed was planted. I had not owned a motorcycle in more than 35yrs at that point. I got to say hello to Scott Casey the founder of The Rolling Barrage. We had met briefly during our service.

The following year I was determined to get a bike again and do a leg, nothing more. So with 300km on my little 500 honda I met the TRB in Barrie and rode one day to breakfast at Currie Towing. What a breakfast they put on for us, steak and eggs, pancakes and bacon, did I say Bacon. My wife has muscular dystrophy and I find it very hard to stay away and leave my responsibilities to someone else. So that was just a one day ride but I was openly welcomed. Nigel asked me this year why he remembered me if I only rode one day. That answer was easy, when you big Harley, Indian and Goldwing riders take off it’s fast and me on my little baby honda as it’s been called, panic and try to catch you well the inevitable happens. I launched it with to much gas and brought the front wheel off ground and hung on to it.

The next year I was determined to do more and did Kingston to Sault Ste Marie, well north of Sault Ste Marie because I heard of that big breakfast and was going to join them for it, wasn’t going to miss it.

This year 2023 had a very urgent need for me, emotional need that I couldn’t see, but others could yet I knew I needed to do this Full Pull.

My wife of 35yrs, Linda is battling myotonic dystrophy (form of muscular dystrophy) and it is progressive. I knew I needed this trip on so many levels but how could I leave Linda home while I went out to ride on a cross country ride with the guys/gals. I was being selfish and uncaring and honestly up until the morning I actually threw my leg over the saddle I was not going, the guilt was heavy on my heart, my shoulders. I had arranged for an extra PSW to come in Mon to Fri and help Linda, even just sit and chat of go for a scoot on her scooter. My sister is living here and Linda’s mom would come by, she live 10 minutes away. My mom and her gentleman friend came by with lunch. So I had no excuse not to go but still I felt the burden, the guilt.

I met up with Chris, Keith, Paul and Les in North Bay and headed to Saint John’s. Chris could see the weight even though I thought it was hidden. Newfoundland was an emotional trip because in my saddlebags I carried some of my father’s ashes and intended to spread them on a beach on the Rock. My father came to Canada after the war and was sponsored by a Ranch in Trail BC. Once his ticket was paid in full he ended up in Ont where he met my mom.

As kids my father wanted us to know what a great country we lived in and we camped each summer in tents in every province except Newfoundland. 5 yrs ago we lost my father at 87, don’t be sad he lived a great live and up til 86 he was still riding his bicycle 40 miles a day. Where am I going with this.

The day my father passed at home with us by his side my buddy called me. I saw the call but did not pick it up, I was busy and would call him later. Saw he left a message on my phone and on my FB page of his condolences. Not a problem I’ll call him later. That night my buddy, Allen of more than 25yrs hung himself. That hit me like a rock, I always felt he robbed me of grieving for my father. So since my father had never made it to Newfoundland I felt it was the right place to spread some of his ashes. I broke away from the group and with the help of a former supply Tech now preacher buddy we went to a secluded beach and I spread his ashes on the beach and let the waves take him out. I hoped that that would give my some closure and forgiveness of the pain I was carrying. It did some but the weight was still heavy.

As we rode across this country and the stories, each morning of healing were being told that only pressed more heavily on my own shoulders. Each morning my story seem so insignificant. I still was seeing faces, voices and her lifeless face cradled in my arms. How can this ride help me find peace.

But as we rode I developed a routine I began looking for that morning hug, that long embrace like the quilt I was given a few years past. I began to feel alive and not just existing. I began to dismantle the walls I had built. It wasn’t just one wall it is walls within walls. Cracks were appearing that I no longer need to fill in, to purge. I began to dismantle them myself.

In my world I am everyone’s rock, the go to guy. At work I was known as the fixer, the guy that can straighten things out. But to me that is a heavy responsibility and add in the primary caregiver for your spouses failing health I was at a breaking point I did not have to tools to cope with. The day after the ride was done and everyone had dispersed is when it hit me.

Alone in my hotel room I began to read my father’s obituary I had written and to say thank you to everyone. I broke down, dropped to my knees and openly cried. For my father I gave thanks for the man that I became. For those soldiers we lost I am in less pain. For the 12 yr old blue eyed girl in her blue summer dress, Ashley who died in my arms I hope you rest easy. For Allen my friend who committed suicide the day my father passed I, I’m not sure if forgiveness is the right word but I have found acceptance in your pain and hope you are at peace.

So what did I get out of this ride? Some closure, some tools and an appointment with a sociologist tomorrow. I would add this and it is from my words in my father’s eulogy.

Three word’s that should be the easiest to say but are the hardest to say. Even today I find them hard to say but know they must be spoken, spoken without hesitation.

“I love you”

Thank you to this family, The Rolling Barrage.

John Quint

Full Pull Alumni, The Rolling Barrage