ANDOVER, Minn. – With his life nearing its end, it's not clear if Sam Giddings could see the 50 motorcycles that rumbled into his advanced care center Monday evening, but his family feels confident he felt them.
Giddings, 80, is in hospice, dying of cancer, while his family keeps a vigil at Cherrywood Advanced Living.
He's surrounded by pictures and scale models of motorcycles brought from his home in Anoka.
"Growing up as kids we all knew dad with a motorcycle," said his son, Wayne, from his father's bedside.
Giddings ran an auto parts business for a living, but his free time was spent with bikes. Wayne remembers a trip to motorcycle mecca, Sturgis, S.D., as a highlight.
"One of the few times I've ever seen my dad cry," said Wayne.
The rest of the family was wiping away tears Monday night, when dozen of motorcycles paraded into the Cherrywood parking lot.
The outpouring started with a Facebook post by Karen Harwerth, who was helping a friend get settled at Cherrywood when she met Sam and learned of his passion for motorcycles.
"Kind of put out a call to test the power of Facebook to see who would respond," she said.
Among the first to answer was Harwerth's high school friend Mary Gibson, which turned out to be a score.
"I have friends who are bikers," said Gibson proudly.
"I have two," laughed Harwerth.
Twenty-four hours was all it took to pull the gathering together.
Giddings was wheeled in a chair to the edge of the parking lot, as 50 bikers paraded to a stop, turning off their engines for a salute and a round of applause.
Giddings status as a veteran assured many in the group were former military themselves.
"We'll do anything for our brothers," said one rider.
Wayne Giddings wiped away tears. "This really means a lot to us you guys," he told the bikers. "Thank you all."
With a life winding down, they hit their ignitions and again sounded the trumpets – giving a fellow biker one last piece of heaven here on earth.