Monday, September 11, 2006

The Old Man and the Old Yellow Bike

The Old Man on the Old Yellow Bike
A Tribute to Dr. James Steven Johnson, Jr.

For as long as I've lived in Oak Ridge, the highlight of my day was to see the old man on the old, yellow bike. Several times a day I would see him riding his ancient bike up and down West Outer Drive....and he was always smiling. There were days when work or family matters would really get me down. And then, as I walked up the driveway to get the day's paper and mail, I would see this old man. I would smile and wave....he just kept peddling his bike....and would always pass on his unbelievable smile to me. That smile, coming from an old man on a bike, would wash away all my bad thoughts for the day. It was a daily ritual....unless it was raining. But with the first passing of the rain he would be out on the road again....peddling and smiling....and always looking forward. He never spoke but always acknowledged your wave or smile with his....and forward he would keep pushing.

Several days ago I heard through a church friend that this man had died. He died in the front yard of this family....doing what he loved to do.....riding his old, yellow bike.

I never knew his name, where he lived or what kind of life he had lived. He never spoke and we never introduced ourselves. I just waved and he just smiled.

I learned about this man through his obituary. And I am sorry we never got to know one another. But the memories I have of this old man will always be implanted in my mind.

Farewell, Mr. Johnson. I will miss your smile.....and your old, yellow bike.

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