ROYAL OAK (AP) – A Royal Oak postal carrier has received a Humanitarian of the Year award from the National Association of Letter Carriers for his efforts to grant a final wish of a dying friend he met on his route.

The 280,000-member Washington, D.C.-based union honored John Dick recently for delivering on a promise to give Gregg Glowacz of Royal Oak one last motorcycle ride.

READ MORE: Science of Weather: O'Shea Solar Park

“It changed the way I wake up every morning,” Dick, 54, told The Daily Tribune of Royal Oak. “I realized each day is a gift because each day you never know what can happen.”

Glowacz was a hospital executive left a quadriplegic after suffering brain-aneurysm surgery and two strokes. The two men had bonded over a shared love of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Glowacz died just over a year ago at the age of 54, only several days after Dick and others got him into a motorcycle sidecar for his last ride.

Glowacz’s wife, Vicki, held her husband’s head up for the ride.

“Vicki was there and it was so nice she got to be a part of it,” Dick said. “I accepted the award in memory of Gregg and the lessons he taught me.”

Watching his friend suffer was a difficult way to learn those lessons, he said.

“Life took a real bitter twist for him,” Dick said.

READ MORE: Michigan Matters: Motor City's Italian Connection Grows!

Glowacz could not speak and communicated by using a laser attached to eyeglasses to point to letters and numbers on a chart.

“That first visit to the hospital was rough,” Dick said. “I think he was embarrassed for me to see him in that condition. I was so sad and shocked.”

As Glowacz neared death, Dick got the sidecar motorcycle lined up and they rode through downtown Royal Oak and along Woodward Avenue.

“We all knew what this meant,” Dick said. “It was his last motorcycle ride, and yet it wasn’t a sad thing. When we got back to his house we were all celebrating, people were grilling and drinking.”

Glowacz even arranged a motorcycle funeral for his friend.

“Every time I tell this story I can hardly believe I lived it,” Dick said. “When I say hello or goodbye to people now I try to do it on a happy note because in life you never know when it might be the last time.”

MORE NEWS: MSP, Metro Detroit Police Crack Down On 'Move Over' Law

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.