HANSON — Behind the headline of a recent motorcycle crash that killed Hanson resident John Edwards, is a love story that endures within the warm smile and optimism of his widow Lorraine as she carries on.
Her family says she is struggling to walk now — determined she will in due time.
In a moment the pair, who were enjoying a motorcycle ride, was separated forever following a head-on crash that took John’s life on Oct. 16 in Lakeville — Lorraine lost her sweetheart of 56 years.
“I don’t know how she has such a smile on her face, but she smiles because she is thankful to be alive,” said her adult daughter Christine Moniz.
Moniz spends much of her time by her mother’s side these days. She is the youngest of three children and still mourns her father. These are the first holidays they will spend without him. She attempts to steady her emotions with wounds still fresh, yet, she is inspired by her mother’s strength.
On Oct. 16 the Edwards were out for their ride — John and Lorraine together as usual — with son Andy, and a family friend each following behind the other. A driver struck John and Lorraine head-on and, as daughter Christine related the words of witnesses to the scene, it resembled “a war zone.”
She said off-duty Brockton fire Lt. Scott Sweet was at the right place at the right time and, with a local nurse, did all the right things immediately, rendering first aid.
“They likely saved my mother’s life. They tied her leg to control the bleeding,” said Moniz.
Lorraine was taken by medical helicopter to the Rhode Island Trauma Center where she received multiple blood transfusions, along with the first of several surgeries. Ultimately amputation of her leg below the knee was required, and she had sustained multiple breaks in the bones in all her extremities including her hands, as well as her back and ribs.
The casts have been removed in the weeks following the crash, but she is unable to walk yet as her amputation and remaining bone heal.
In an effort to ease the family’s financial burden, a fundraiser and meat raffle were recently held by Whitman VFW Post 697 to help defray Mrs. Edwards’ medical costs. Post Quartermaster Al Rainey said the fundraiser event and an impromptu “pass the hat” collectively raised $12,000, which has already been given to the family.
Whitman VFW Post employees Michelle Piers and Dan Greenwood co-organized the fundraiser for someone they remembered as a “jolly man, who told jokes and enjoyed life.”
John Edwards, by all accounts, was a lover of the open road and enjoyed going out with his wife Lorraine who joined him in motoring adventures after they raised their four children.
He was a member of the VFW post and a member of the South Shore Hogs, and all four of his children have motorcycle licenses.
Most recently, John was the veteran’s liaison for the VFW. He would occasionally add something as part of the meeting, but if he had nothing to add he would say “ride safe,” Moniz said.
South Shore Hogs traveled the route of the fatal accident one weekend later erecting a memorial sign near Tamarack Park in Lakeville the sign bearing John’s name with those very words — “ride safe.” The community has also reached out and as Lorraine advances from rehabilitation she will need accommodations to the home including accessibility.
“We want her to be healthy enough to return home,” said Moniz.
Moniz talked about her mother’s resilience, lamenting that she may never ride a motorcycle again herself after this tragedy.
“We are told (mom) is the ‘talk of the therapy department’ because she is willing to work and she is always smiling,” said Moniz. The family is hopeful the six-month time frame given from her doctors will provide an uplifting outlook on the prognosis. They will know more as time passes.
With deep roots on State Street in Hanson, three generations have resided in the home — built in 1713 — of Moniz’s grandmother, whose maiden name was Munro then Hammond.
The bridge on State Street is named in memory of Moniz’s great uncle Robert Hammond. Grandma is now 100 years old and the last surviving sibling of the Hammond’s.
Moniz has heard from numerous local residents who knew the four Edwards siblings growing up as graduates of WHRHS. Among the countless visitors three days after the accident many of the family returned to Lorraine’s side, including her son Wayne who resides in Ohio, and son Jack who resides in Florida.
Her father worked at Halliday Lithograph Co., in Hanover for more than 18 years. He was originally from Joplin, Mo., and was a Navy metalsmith. Lorraine was set up with John on a blind double date, after which the pair began courting and married in 1960. Lorraine graduated from South Hanover high school in 1959.
“My father used to walk from the Naval Base in Weymouth all the way to see my mother in Hanson.”
Edwards bought a motorcycle and started riding early in the ’60s and Lorraine joined him after the children got older. The pair made their way across country Route 66 once to Seattle, and also to California (to see son Wayne who was stationed there at Ft. Edwards.)
“We are all dealing — in our own way,” Moniz said.
The family will host a memorial at First Congregational Church in Hanson with dates to be determined in the spring.
“The VFW graciously offered their hall.
They have been a great support,” she said. “They have also offered medical equipment, a ramp to assist in making the home handicap accessible.”
Celebrating life with 11 grandchildren Lorraine has had visitors from several states, members of the church, the South Shore Hogs, Whitman VFW, friends where she most recently worked The Christmas Tree Shop along with Former associates of past employers.
“They have all come to see her, see how she is doing,”said Moniz.
Now with the holidays upon us the family will approach each day with optimism as they celebrate the life of their father and guide their mother to recovery.