Pearl Tiffany’s dream ride on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle has come true — with a little help from her friends.
Pearl, a 97-year-old Surface Creek Valley resident known locally as “The Eckert Flower Lady” for the exuberant floral displays growing in her front yard along Highway 65, decided recently that she wanted a ride on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
At a spry 97 years, Pearl still enjoys working with her flowers, taking care of weeding and watering chores. But watching the almost continuous parade of Harley-riding bikers cruising by her place each summer while she worked in the garden sparked the lure of the open road a desire for some adventure.
She told her friends, E.J. and Lee Verdahl, about her dream. The Verdahl family has befriended Pearl and routinely helps her with daily living chores including maintenance of her flower garden.
E.J. advised Pearl that she probably didn’t need to flag down a passing biker on Highway 65 to get her wish fulfilled, as Pearl had suggested she was considering. Rather, Verdahl kept her friend’s dream in mind.
Then, a chance encounter at a fuel stop on North Avenue in Grand Junction prompted Verdahl to mention Pearl’s dream to the cashier who had just been talking with a Harley rider paying for his gas.
It turned out that the cashier, Mabel Saddoris, is the founder of an organization she calls M.A.W. — short for Motorist Awareness.
Verdahl remembers when she mentioned Pearl’s dream ride idea that Mabel looked into the distance for a moment and then said, “I think we might just be able to do something about that. We can do this.”
As things were working out, this was one of the poignant and bittersweet twists of fate that life punctuates our daily lives with special meaning. Pearl’s dream motorbike ride would come about in part because of a dream that Mabel Saddoris had herself lost.
Mabel recalls her meeting with Verdahl. “I knew immediately this was a God-placed thing. I had been finalizing details with my pastor for a memorial bike run we’d scheduled on Sept. 20.”
The Sept. 20 bike run was in memory of Mabel’s son.
Mabel explained that she had begun the M.A.W. organization as “a commitment to save at least one other life from being lost to a careless driver.”
Some phone calls were made and some arrangements were set up. A group of riders who are friends of Saddoris’ representing her M.A.W. organization, and who also belong to a chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association (C.M.A.) at her church, arranged for a ride to Orchard City on Oct. 4 and for a potluck lunch at the home of Guy and Pat Cooper in Orchard City.
Afterward, Pearl would be given the ride of her dreams on motorcycle with the M.A.W./C.M.A. riders.
Unfortunately, dreams sometimes have to be delayed, even when you are 97 years old.
Oct. 4 turned out to be a cold, rainy, and windy Saturday, so the big event was postponed and rescheduled.
Weather also cancelled plans for a ride event on the following weekend.
So everyone decided that the Verdahls would go with Pearl to Grand Junction and rendezvous with the M.A.W./C.M.A. riders at Long’s Park for the ride event.
So, on Oct. 18, Pearl, who will be 98 years old next month, went down to the Grand Valley with E.J. and Lee to meet their new friends at the park located near Central High School.
The weather was perfect and the dream ride came off without a hitch.
Pearl’s reaction to the long-awaited event?
“We-e-e! That was fun! I want to do it again next year,” she said.
Verdahl is clearly proud of her friend’s enthusiasm for life and her desire for new experiences, long past the point in life when many other people have given up hope.
Pearl proudly says, “I’m a ‘Harley Mama now.’”
Verdahl hopes to submit Pearl’s story to a national women’s magazine so that others can take heart from Pearl’s courage and love of life.
Verdahl said that she has promised Pearl another ride every summer until Pearl reaches 100 years old.
And what about at 101 years? Pearl might not want to wait for her friend to set that one up.
Verdahl says that Pearl still talks about just, “Going out to the highway, flagging down a biker, and just hopping on.”