“They say everything can be replaced.”
So begins a famous song by Bob Dylan. As Perry native Danny Galligan learned last week — thanks to his circle of friends, including some classmates from the Perry High School Class of 1984 — that is at least partly true.
Galligan was away from his home in Highlands Ranch, Colo., and back in Perry during the last weeks of October, taking part in solemn duties that many middle-aged people are called to perform, people who grew up here and moved away after college. He was home to be with his family during the death and burial of his father.
Jim Galligan, 87, of Perry passed away Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, at the Rowley Masonic Community in Perry. His funeral was Saturday, Oct. 26.
The death of a parent is a big grief to bear. It eclipses all our ordinary, day-to-day pains and problems and makes them fade into insignificance. This in no less true of a parent “being old and full of days” or when we are reminded, “Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die, / Passing through nature to eternity.”
Yet the big griefs do not make us entirely insensitive to the small. If our car breaks down on the way to the funeral home, for instance, or if we bite our tongue during the funeral luncheon, we still feel these small pains right alongside the great, like insults added to injuries.
This was Danny Galligan’s case Monday, Oct. 21 when, freshly grieving the loss of his father, he informed his Perry friends on Facebook:
Happened to have my bike with me while I traveled to town this week. It was leaning against the garage tonight, Oct. 21, when stolen around 9 p.m. Specialized Rock Hopper, dark gray with blue and orange accents. Also had a rack-off-the-seat bar.
Generosity compels us to suppose that the thief did not know whose bicycle he was stealing, did not know his victim had just suffered a loss out of all proportion to the petty theft he was perpetrating. To suppose otherwise entails ascribing a malice to the thief so shocking that we cannot believe a Perry person would bear it. No, it must just be the luck of the Irish.
The whirlwind of ceremonies for the patron of the Galligan family were got through during the next week, but the bike did not turn up in that time, as Galligan told his friends the following Monday, Oct. 28 on Facebook:
Thank you all for the support this past week in helping me recover my stolen bike (it’s still missing) and, of course, for the love and support you’ve shown to our family as we laid our Dad to rest.
It snowed, and Halloween drew on, with the Feast of All Saints and the honors due the numberless dead performed as usual in our commercial culture, with candy and costumes. Galligan updated his friends again on Thursday, Oct. 31:
Today I had lunch with a buddy who greeted me with a hug and asked how I was doing. We talked about my Dad’s last few days, about his arrangements and what a beautiful visitation and funeral that we had in his honor. I’m certain he saw tears in my eyes a couple of times as I talked about having a sense of Peace being able to be present through Dad’s illness. When we finished, he stopped at his car and said he had something for me . . . It was a new bike!
Galligan’s lunch companion was Mike Tice, a classmate from the PHS Class of 1984. He caught on video the look of disbelief on Galligan’s face when he was presented with this gift from his friends.
“That’s your bike, dude,” Tice told the incredulous Galligan.
Tice explained that Kevin Ruggle came up with the idea of collecting cash from a group of guys to replace Galligan’s pilfered bike, and Kim Hart Cavanaugh’s husband jumped on board, “and before you know it . . .” the Colorado rock hopper was back on the trail.
Galligan shared his joy on Facebook and explained how the surprise was brought about.
Tice took a picture of my bike into the shop where I had purchased mine four years ago and said, “Make it look like this!” And it does. Only it is new and the accessories are nicer.
He expressed his heartfelt Perry thanks as well to the rest of his circle of friends: Mark Murphy, Cheryl Hjelle Murphy, Kris DeBont, Kelli DeBont, Jerry Ruggle, Dale Larson, Kip Elliott, Tom Tiernan, Kay M. Tiernan, Scott Kemp, Chris Burger, Dave Sloan, Steve Rothmeyer and Dan Kerr.
“I am blown away by your generosity and am grateful for your friendship!” Galligan said. “The stolen bike is still missing, but I have a great group of friends.”
Happily, bicycles can be replaced, and the love of a father can never be stolen, so Galligan was made whole in the end by love and friendship.