Thunderclouds threatened us from every angle as Judy and I bicycled the Connemara coast of Ireland. We had many miles to cover and were wildly curious about seeing all the villages along the way, so we appealed to Judy’s mother-in-law, Molly, who had recently passed, and my mother, Bea, who had been gone for many years. “Molly-Bea, please keep us dry. There’s so much we need to see.” In a land famous for downpours, we never got wet. To our delight, when we reached our B&B, a double rainbow appeared.
Soon after, my mother-in-law — also named Bea — died, so Molly-Beas guided us on our journeys when we hit a fork in the road or a tricky rotary. When Judy’s mother, Adele, rose to heaven, our moms joined together to watch over us.
For over 40 years, Judy and I have been like Lewis and Clark on two wheels. We study historical houses, read informational plaques, and chat with fascinating people who happily tell us their stories. To accomplish what we want to do and stay safe on the roads, we’ve relied on our guardian angels: Molly-Beas-Adele.
One summer, we pedaled from our hometown of Sharon to Provincetown on Blukey and Brown Bear, the nicknames for our steeds. As we wound our way on backroads to Wareham, a 40-mile trek, we soon discovered the Massachusetts bicycle map had serious omissions. This was decades before GPS and the MapMyRide app. We didn’t know which way to turn, so we looked to the skies whispering “Molly-Beas-Adele,” and pronto, people who knew the way magically appeared, not just once, but 13 lucky times.
How about the day we decided to bike parallel to a grueling 25-mile swim competition on Lake Memphremagog from Newport, Vermont, into Quebec? We were rooting for a strong young woman and wanted to cheer for her when she finished. We hadn’t counted on mile-high hills, detours, and where-the-heck-are-we confusion. She hadn’t counted on strong winds and choppy water. Sixty-five biking miles later, we pulled up to the shore just as she emerged. We thanked Molly-Beas-Adele for perfect timing.
One time, as I walked the Susan G. Komen 3-Day breast cancer fund-raiser — 60 miles in three days — Judy hopped on her bike, determined to find me and offer encouragement. A great idea, except there were thousands of walkers. “Molly-Beas-Adele,” she repeated over and over again, and came to a full stop at an intersection in East Milton Square. Within minutes, she spotted me passing by. Serendipity? Coincidence? We knew better.
There was the time that, after a spin through Central Massachusetts, we locked our cycles onto the back of the car’s bike rack and headed for home, stopping briefly at an antique shop for a look-see. When we arrived at Judy’s house hours later, we went to remove Blukey and Brown Bear, but Judy’s keys were missing. Had she left them on the bumper of the car when she secured the bikes, and then they slid off? Returning in a panic to the parking lot, I chanted our mantra, “Molly-Beas-Adele, Molly-Beas-Adele.” No keys. Nothing along the main street. Five miles down the road, I spotted the antique store. Parking, I hopped out, scoured the area, and saw a glint of silver. The keys! I knew I would find them. I just knew it.
Skeptics may say Judy and I are our own compasses, our own good planners of our routes, our own prescient anticipators of problems — we carry a spare inner tube, an air pump, extra water, and first aid. But we know the truth: Consider how a random Samaritan put Blukey in his trunk and drove us to a bike shop when my brakes seized up; how Brown Bear’s flat tire didn’t end an adventure; how a sudden fall wasn’t bone-breaking; and how a careless too-close-for-comfort driver might make us mad but never fearful. As moms and grandmas ourselves, we understand mother-power.
Ruth Weiner is a writer in Sharon. Her latest book is The Mahjong Mavens of Boca Raton. Send comments to email@example.com. TELL YOUR STORY. Email your 650-word essay on a relationship to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note: We do not respond to submissions we won’t pursue.