A tragic week to face death and realities

Ethel McPeak in 1946 after a ride to Tampa to meet her future in-laws.
Ethel McPeak in 1946 after a ride to Tampa to meet her future in-laws.

This tragic time began with an accident that took Bobby and Pam Clark away from us one week ago.

Then a madman killed Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two vibrant members of our broadcast journalism community, on live TV at Smith Mountain Lake Wednesday.

Today, I remember Ethel McPeak Thompson Bolt, my mother, who passed away three years ago today at age 89 after a full life of adventure.  I stayed up with her that final night at her home at assisted living and she left us at dawn on August 28, 2012.

Some readers here may remember my story about my mother’s ride on her Harley Davidson in 1946 from Meadows of Dan to Tampa, Florida, to visit her future in-laws.  She made the journey alone, a journey one did not see that often in those days.

She and my dad met in part because of their love of motorcycles.  She ran the gas stamp office at the Navy Yard in Norfolk during World War II and my dad was in port awaiting deployment on his ship and went to the office to seek extra coupons for his Harley for a trip down to Tampa.  As one rider to another, she approved the coupons and they became friends and married after the war.

Today, I will climb on my bike to ride to Buffalo Mountain Church Cemetery to remember my mother before heading to Pilot to honor the memory of Bobby and Pam and help escort them to Jacksonville Cemetery.

Bobby and Pam Clark
Bobby and Pam Clark

They came to see me in the hospital in November and December of 2012 as I tried to recover from life-threatening injuries from a chance encounter on one of my motorcycles with a cow.  Bobby was a firefighter in Fairfax in Northern Virginia during our time in the National Capital Region in Washington.

This undated photograph made available by WDBJ-TV shows reporter Alison Parker, left, and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker and Ward were fatally shot during an on-air interview, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in Moneta, Va. Authorities identified the suspect as fellow journalist Vester Lee Flanagan II, who appeared on WDBJ-TV as Bryce Williams. Flanagan was fired from the station earlier this year. (Courtesy of WDBJ-TV via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Alison Parker, left, and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker and Ward were fatally shot during an on-air interview. (Courtesy of WDBJ-TV via AP)

I had the privilege of working the sidelines at high school football games with Adam Ward we talked about cameras, news and sports.  I also filmed him at work on a broadcast for a charity ride a few years ago.

Three separate situations where death was the common result:  An active retired couple who loved motorcycles who were taken in an vehicle accident after church, two young journalists killed in a senseless murder at the hands of a former colleague with a grudge and a mother at the peaceful end of a long life.

Death affects us in many ways.  It is a final result we face, a constant reminder that life is precious and must and should be enjoyed for each of the precious seconds we have on this earth.

We honor and mourn friends, relatives and those we wish we had known better and wish Godspeed to each and every one.


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