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Riding customized Harley reminds mom of Marine son

Community Portrait
By: Story and photo Michael Kirby
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Some days when Renee Meade gets on her motorcycle for a ride it’s a roller coaster of emotions. The fun of the wind in her face, the joy of riding and going fast is most often overshadowed by thoughts of her son. Jordan Inman, her 28-year-old son, is a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps with the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines Weapons Company stationed at Twentynine Palms in Southern California. He’s on his second deployment to Afghanistan. Meade cannot help but worry about his well-being. Inman grew up in Auburn and graduated from Placer High in 2002. His mother taught him to ride motorcycles, sharing a lifelong passion with her son. Her motorcycle is a customized Harley-Davidson Sportster chopped to look like a retro bike of the 1940s or 1950s. The color is drab green and painted on the gas tank is a big white military star along with USMC. You can’t miss Meade on the bike. Inman built the bike and he designed it with a military throwback theme in mind. “He bought the Sportster here in Auburn in 2009 and refurbished it with this old-fashioned retro look and then he put all his platoon information on it,” Meade said. Inman gave it to his mom to ride when he was first deployed to Afghanistan in October of 2009 and she’s had it ever since. “He said, ‘I’m leaving, Mom. I want you to ride my motorcycle and when you do think about me,’” Meade said. She still gets emotional just thinking about the special gift and she put 5,000 miles on the motorcycle during his first eight-month deployment. She changed it a little to suit her more. A windshield keeps the bugs out of her face and the suspension was restored. When she gets on the bike her thoughts drift to her son and how he is doing. What is he doing? Is he safe? She can’t help it, she’s a mother. “I think about him every time I ride. It’s hard not to because everyone stops me to ask me about the bike,” Meade said. “They want to know if I’m a Marine, and I have to tell them the story, his story, and most everyone thanks me for my son’s service.” Though she rides the military-styled bike, Meade says she is not pro-war, but she supports her son’s choice to serve his country. “I’m not for any war. I wish the world was all peaceful,” she said. Meade’s worries are not far off base. Inman’s job in the Marine Corps is with QRF (Quick Reaction Force), which means his job is to rescue troops pinned down in combat, risking his life in dangerous situations. As each of her children has left the home nest, Meade has done something new to occupy her time. Recently she has begun painting and has done portraits of several members of Inman’s platoon who have been killed in action. She pours her heart into each painting rendered from an image, which she pulls off a Facebook support page for family members of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. “I just thought I needed to reach out and touch the other moms by painting a portrait of their sons. I’m so scared when Jordan’s away,” Meade said. Meade paints the portraits unsolicited, frames and mattes each painting and sends the pictures to the soldier’s family. Sadly, Meade has done six paintings of members of Inman’s platoon who have died in action. “Hopefully I won’t do any more,” she said. Meade has been married to her husband Steve for 25 years. They live in Auburn and also have a daughter Madison, who in now in her fourth year of college on a basketball scholarship. Meade can’t wait for Thanksgiving when Inman returns from deployment overseas, and she will have a chance to ride with him again.