When I was a kid, I loved to ride dirt bikes...all the time. As I grew into my teenage years, everything around me was always changing, as it is for most in their teen years. Throughout the whirlwinds of change, one thing maintained its stature...riding dirt bikes! Although my main focus was simply having fun and avoiding visits to the hospital, I did eventually manage a few trips to the doctor or dentist. Riding dirt bikes is a relatively dangerous sport...yesterday, today and tomorrow. One will learn a lot about the upkeep of such machinery, and I eventually would restore several vintage and classic motocross bikes and become quite the mechanic. The peculiar thing in all of the years of riding trails and motocross tracks, is the fact that my favorite motorcycle back then was none other than the Triumph Bonneville...a street bike!

One day while practicing wheelies in the local school yard, I flipped my little motorcycle and the crossbar hit me in the mouth, severely displacing some of my once-straight teeth. A trip to my childhood dentist, Dr. Ken McCord; would eventually solve that problem over time. It was the same day that my mom said I should not go out riding, since I had just cleaned my bike and the garage floor the day before...but I rode anyway and paid the price. Always listen to your Mom!

This all happened in the mid-to-late seventies.

Last year in February of 2012, I was offered a new job as an inspector about forty miles south of Houston. I took the position along with other fellow inspectors and made a name for myself with the Chief Inspector of the facility. After several weeks into the four month plant turnaround, I became familiar with a lot of the maintenance, welding, and scaffolding crew. One young man in particular would often visit my work sites and question me about my role as an inspector. He seemed intrigued and interested in my line of work. The young man was never shy to ask questions, and seemed more and more each day to become my friend. For some reason unexplainable, I was drawn to the young man in a very spiritual way. It seemed that I could sense he was looking for something more than simple co-worker comeraderie. I kept my personal life and my personal history of hobbies and interests on hold until I got to know the young man a little better.

Soon he was asking me for help outside of work, moving furniture or simply meeting his friends. Since I had a pickup truck without a bed cover, it was relatively easy to do such favors for the young man. He did have a truck, but the man he bought it from had just installed a hinged bed cover that was quite cumbersome to remove and re-install. I didn't mind using my truck to help him.

One day at work, after becoming relatively comfortable as having this new friend and co-worker as an understudy, I offered to assist him in attending some college courses related to Non-Destructive Examination and Inspections. But before doing so, I asked him what his goals were before he became a carpenter and scaffold-builder.

He said: "Well, I wanted to become a motorcycle mechanic, and some day restore a Triumph Bonneville".

I did not respond to him for quite some time, as I was almost in shock from the words he had just spoken. So, I asked him if he would like to be a mechanic on my motocross team and his eyes about grew twice their size! I put him on our motocross team.

After he settled-down from the euphoric request to be a mechanic on my team, I told him that I felt God had directed our paths to cross. When I said "God"...his eyes widened. Later that week he would ask me to join him for dinner at a local Italian restaurant. He asked me to meet him at his apartment, so I did.

He drove us to a restaurant that at most, was my favorite Italian restaurant in the entire metropolitan area! When we began to look through the menu, I was to myself; quietly looking for my favorite dinner item "Antonio's Trio" on the menu, but could not find it. I decide I would order Lasagne, but when the waitress came to our table to take our orders, my friend said he wanted his favorite...."Antonio's Trio". I didn't say anything, and proceeded to order Lasagne.

When we finished our meal, my young friend decided to tell me of all the bad things he had done as a kid, but at his current age of 20...he was still a kid to me. Then...he took me across the parking lot of the restaurant and walked upon a church....a church that he says his grandfather had built. He reiterated the bad things he had done, and the experience of losing a father due to divorce, and a mentor in his older brother who was taken to be disciplined by the state in a reformatory.

This picture to me, began to make sense....what he was searching for in his young life began to make sense.

After months and months of working alongside each other, I noticed a transformation in the young man. He told me he was going to quit his drinking of alcohol and intake of tobacco products. I was impressed. The only other goal he wanted was his girlfriend to follow in his footsteps, the examples he was setting for her. At the time, she was being very stubborn to change, and since neither of them were currently going to church, my friend came to me one day for advice.

Since I knew he was raised a Christian, and I believe he was destined to minister the word of God, I told him this:

"Pray for the things you need and work for the things you want. I know you know how to pray"!

So, unknown to me at the time, he went back to his Grandpa's church after a seven year hiatus! He repented of all his sins and prayed for the things he needed in his life.

By this time, my young friend had become as a son to me. I treated him as such, and always helped him when he would ask. Fairly soon, he was introducing me to the few friends he had, but most importantly...he introduced me to his family as his future co-worker. His new goal was to become an NDE Technician and work right alongside with me. Soon, he would pass his first NDE exam and needed just two more certificates and then I could get him hired-on with the company and work alongside with me!

So far, I had seen and helped make one of his dreams come true, and that was to become a motorcycle mechanic....another dream coming true was right around the corner!

In talking with his Mom one day, we were discussing dental work and all the trials of growing up with imperfect teeth. We have all spent a lot of money on teeth, but felt it was worth it. When I mentioned to his Mom that my dentist was Ken McCord, her jaw dropped, for Ken McCord was also my young friends' dentist! Only 30 years later!

On the day of June 22, 2012...my young friend asked me if I could help him wire-up a stereo at his new apartment. I obliged and we decided to meet at his place around 8:30 that evening. On his way home from a gathering with friends, he lost control of his truck and went into a ditch that he could not steer out of; ultimately running head-on into a tree. He was less than a quarter of a mile away from home. Of course, me waiting for him at his apartment, I would very soon discover the accident and as the paramedics and Jaws of Life crew frantically worked to remove him from the wreckage, my only thoughts were silent words to God, saying and asking him "of all the people in my Life...please dear Lord, not my little friend, not Matthew S. Wright".

Matthew means "Gift from God" and Shane (his middle name) means "God is gracious".

On June 24th, 2012...my newest and most awesome little friend would lose his Life.

In October of 2012, one of his former girlfriends had told me that Matthew was my "Yellow Bird". I did not understand the term, but she said that a Yellow Bird is a person that both seem to live on a plane of spirituality and closeness, both consciencely and sub-consciencely on the same plane, with God in mind.

I found his very moving and never forgot her words, for my friend had been talking about me to her, since we had met half a year earlier.

In February 2013, just a few weeks ago, I left my office to go out into the units. I stopped at the covered rest area as an employee in the welding shop had come out for a break. He is a 20 year-old kid that is a welders' helper. As he was standing under the cover, one of his co-workers comes out of the welding shop and hollers "Yellow Bird" at him.

I said, "excuse me: Yellow Bird"?

He said "yeah, that's my nickname",

I asked him what his real name was and he said "Matt, Matthew".

Yes, but there's a positive side of such a loss:

His family, and the congregation at his church have been like family to me since this tragedy. And now, I am a member of the very church that he once took me to. I was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ one week after he passed away, and I am now in Bible study and redirecting my energies to worshiping in place of the unending grieving.

With faith, I know we will meet again some day and that day will then become eternal.

God Bless You.
It is Italian for Sabbath.
Historically it was connected to the Piedmontese in northwestern Italy.