Thursday, June 19, 2008
Happily Ever After
Daria Bishop, who is our granddaughter, had been an accomplished athlete from her grade school years. At various times she was encouraged to train as a swimmer or as a distance runner, with the expectations of her respective coaches that she would eventually become an Olympic contender.
At the beginning of this tale, she was twenty-two years old and a member of a local womens’ bicycle team, already with a record of success as a road racer. She also had as yet unrealized ambitions of participating as a tri-athlete.
Out doing her customary fifty miles on her beloved (and expensive!) racing bicycle one late afternoon, she legally and with proper signaling turned left at an intersection. A truck exited from a service station at the right side of the street. Its driver, apparently anxious to get home for supper and also turning left, cut the corner and mowed into Daria. As she fell, Daria instinctively curled into a ball and tightened all those athletic muscles. Two truck tires passed over her chest and waist (leaving tread marks that could be seen for many days).
If she had not been wearing a bicycle helmet, the fall itself would have killed her. If she had not recently been doing upper body strengthening routines, the chest compression alone would have killed her. As it was, she was terribly injured with several internal injuries and going into shock, and as paramedics vocally estimated that she would be DOA at the hospital where she was flown in a medi-vac helicopter, she made a conscious decision between the beckoning peace of death or life with the great physical pain it entailed. She chose life and fought for it.
During her hospital recovery she spent much time pouring over bicycle catalogs, looking for an even better replacement for her totaled bike. When, after many weeks of recovery in her mother’s home, she was able to mount the new bicycle, she found herself reluctant to venture onto street or road. Unable to yet practice many of her former activities, she fought depression by becoming an advocate for mandatory bicycle helmets such as had saved her life.
Seeing her name in a cycling magazine and struck by both her enthusiasm for her cause and the same last name as his, Andy Bishop, well-known road racer on international circuits (including Tour de France), wrote her a letter. This started a long-distance friendship through mail and phone calls that culminated in Andy’s decision to fly to California and to meet Daria in person. As I have heard the story (Daria or Andy, correct me if I’m wrong. My sources are all third-person ones), Andy thought, “This is the woman I want to marry. I don’t care what she looks like.” And then, he said, as he left the plane he found the most beautiful girl in the world waiting for him.
Daria and Andy visited for less than a week and set a wedding date for exactly a year after their first meeting. That day is the one shown in my upper photo (photographer unknown to me), November 10, 1991. The wedding was at a beautiful stone working winery in the Sonoma hills with rolling ridges of trees and autumn colored grape vines beyond a wide green lawn. November is often rainy in this region, but the wedding day was warm, windless and sunny. Guests were ferried to the hilltop site by bus, as private cars were not allowed up the winery’s winding unpaved road.
Many, many touches reflected Daria’s taste, from the completely non-commercial flowers from gardens that decorated the natural bough alter, to having both her father and her step-father escort her down the aisle. There was a string quartet playing on the lawn to greet arriving bus loads of guests while appetizers were served on the wide stone terrace. Daria’s mother leaned toward me and whispered, “do you feel like you’ve wandered into a French movie?” After the ceremony, shaded tables magically replaced the rows of chairs on the lawn and a scrumptious lunch was served. and after that, a rock group played for dancing on the terrace.
Now for another photo, taken fifteen years later, as Daria and Andy celebrated their wedding anniversary in New York City. (I removed the frame, which said Daria Bishop photography). I won’t go in to the details of the life between these photos, except to say that Daria and Andy have two adorable children, Summer, aged ten, and Baxter, aged seven and a half. To find out more, explore Daria’s blog. Suffice to say, they have lived happily ever since the wedding!
And here is bonus photo of the Bishops having fun as a family.