Story and photos by: Ricky Jimenez Carrasco
“It still feels like it was just last week”
In October, the Drifter’s Community & Biker Church hosted the annual “Biker Sunday”, dedicated to honor the past year’s fallen biker brothers and sisters. Family members of the fallen are invited to participate in the events including a complimentary lunch, prayer services, and are given a handmade cross bearing their loved one’s name. Many members of the biker community also attend in the name of the brotherhood that exists between El Paso’s motorcycle enthusiasts. Many family members expressed that they themselves had never been to a motorcycle event. Many times, the fallen rider may not even have been active in the community, had passed on the bike, or had ridden a typical cruiser. To those who attend faithfully, none of that matters. What matters is that the departed had enjoyed what they themselves enjoyed in their life and want their loved ones to know that they are whole heartedly accepted as part of the community.
In their own words:
James Shanks speaking in memory of Amy Dawn:
“They’re presenting me with a cross for my girlfriend/wife/best friend and partner. She passed away in February due to myasthenia gravis which is an auto-immune disorder and affected her muscles. She was 36 when she passed. In my 53 years, I had never known emotional love and she taught me how to do that. By making me sit down with her and talk with her and hold her. She showed me how to love and to express emotion. It was 3 years of nothing but happiness for me. Her body’s gone, but she’ll never be forgotten.
SCB: You said she taught you how to love. Describe that.
“Well, I’ve had 3 tours in Iraq. I was in the Army for 16 years. I was diagnosed with high level PTSD. I have emotional issues. She broke down that wall. It freed me. She was a wonderful person. A wonderful mother.”
Was she already a biker when you met her?
“No, she got that from me. It was love the first time she got on. I got a Streetglide. I put on the trunk on my bike and there were times coming back from San Antonio that her head would be bouncing off my shoulders because she had fallen asleep! I’m happy they’re doing this for me. There’s a lot of loss here today, but also a lot of great people are here supporting us.”
Tim Macias speaking in memory of Anthony J. Macias
“I’m his father. July 14th of this year off of Joe Battle and 375, Tony was on his way home on his motorcycle. He came down on the access road and a car pulled out in front of him and he didn’t have a chance to stop and he hit the back of the car.
“He was a good kid. Like any young man, he had his issues, but he was taking care of himself and doing what he had to. The one thing I learned about my son, since we learn from our children and their lives, was about criticizing people. He used to get on me all the time, ‘Dad don’t be a hater” and I’ve learned. Now, when I get in that mood and start to be critical, I remember that. When I do remember, I know that helps me be a better person.
“He found his own path. We’re catholic. He wound up at Abundant Faith. We never criticized him on his belief, as long as he believed. He’s the kind of guy that made his own decisions, and I was happy with that.
“He restored my faith in a lot of people. When he passed, I was amazed by the number of people that came to us to help us get through this in the name of Anthony. His employers at Sho-offz gym were really amazing. Mike and Gigi were like a second set of parents to him and they hurt as much as we did.
Mom: I remember that Saturday nights were always “our” nights. We would do things, get together, go out to eat. Now, I find it hard on Saturday nights because I expect him. Or now, when it’s the time he would get home, I expect him to walk in the door. I don’t think that will go away since I miss him so much.
Armando Parra speaking in memory of Jerry “Thumper” Kelly
“He was the national vice president for In Country Vets, he was in the confederation of clubs and the El Paso Coalition. I’ve known him for 30 years. He was a hard, difficult person. Everything had to be correct, to the letter. If it wasn’t, he blew up. But that’s just the way he was. Having said that, everything was good about him. He was spontaneous too. We were coming back from Austin from a legislative day, and we got snowed in on I-10. The other guys were in the van, and these guys jump off and started doing snow angels in the middle of nowhere, on the median, somewhere between Van Horn and Sierra Blanca. He was a helluva guy. He was a good brother and he was always there for you, no matter what.”
Cynthia Simpson speaking in memory of Tim Simpson
“My husband passed away January 4th. This is a beautiful occasion to celebrate his life and the lives of everyone else. I’m grateful for this family community and their support. I love them all.”
SCB: Tell me a happy memory of Tim.
“Omigosh. EVERY memory of Tim is awesome. It was the most awesome 6 years of my life! I think the most awesome time we had was his dream trip to Sturgis in 2015. We got closer and the most memorable time we’ve had.”
SCB: What did he teach you?
“He taught me to never give up. He taught me to fight for what I love. That’s something we did together. We fought for custody of his kids. We fought for strength and support for my kids. He always said that: always fight for your goal. That’s what we try to teach our kids today. I just love him and miss him.”
Robert Beltran speaking in memory of his son.
“Dustin Beltran passed away October 17, 2015. He was 24. He was very loved. He was an integral part of our group. He was sick on a Friday, a year ago. He took some meds, but he over-medicated. He was unresponsive all the way to the hospital where he didn’t make it.”
What’s something he taught you?
“He taught me how to love. Despite family issues, despite problems, it was about family. Despite arguments, ‘That’s my dad and that’s it. Right or wrong, that’s my dad and I’m going to stand by him.’ (Takes a moment to collect himself) That’s something I’m going to miss about him. “
David (friend): “That was him. Everything was about family. Even if was something weird like going bowling! Get everybody involved. We still get together, but it’s not the same. We miss him.”
Tiny (friend): “I think a lot of what I taught him did stick to him.”
SCB: What did he teach you?
“Just how to live life to the fullest every day. Rain or snow or shine, ‘Hey, let’s go out to have a good time.’ He was the kind of guy that if you didn’t have any money, and he had $5, you both had $5. This whole month has just been feeling a whole lot emptier. We all knew it was coming up, but it doesn’t go away. It’s been a year, but it still feels like it was last week.”