A Word Bigger Than Love

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It is the eve of Super Bowl LXIX.  Tomorrow, at 6:30 pm, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks will take the field while millions of fans watch, rooting for their faves  as they consume mass quantities of pizza, chicken wings, and vast amounts of beer. For decades, the Super Bowl was akin to a religious holiday in our house. My husband loved football. Come to think of it, “loved” is probably not the right word. Is there a word to express a feeling bigger than love? Nothing comes to mind – at least nothing that adequately captures the passion, zeal and devotion my Joe had for the game of football.

Typically a quiet man, something about football brought out a side of Joe that was the antithesis of quiet. On any given Sunday, Joe was perched on his favorite chair – prepared to root on his team, call the plays and loudly chastise the calls he considered unfair, misguided or just plain wrong. Screaming, jumping out of his chair, and swearing (loudly), it was not uncommon to hear, repeatedly, “WHAT THE (expletive) ARE YOU (expletive expletive) DOOOIIINNNGGGG?” That man had quite the colorful vocabulary on game days.

Things changed in 1994. You see, in 1994, our daughter was born. Unfortunately, 1994 was also the year Giants’ fans remember as the beginning of a dark time for the team. 1994 was the year that Phil SImms and Lawrence Taylor retired and things went seriously south.  But our girl was born in May, months before the darkness descended over the Meadowlands. Joe bought her a tiny little NY Giants’ shirt that she could wear on game days. There he was, all 6’4″ of him curled up on the floor next to his tiny little baby girl clad in Giants’ blue.

But he wasn’t curled up for long. It was a train wreck of a season – well, as history will note, it was more than one season. As the team spiraled downward, that poor man was near apoplexy. And, as our daughter matured, it became clear that it was in the best interest of her developing language skills that game day might best double as movie day – or even shopping day – for us gals. You see, my daughter attended parochial schools. While I might not be the sharpest knife in the tool drawer, I was fairly confident that Sister Elizabeth or Father Anthony would not find game day verbiage appropriate, or even mildly entertaining, for our little Catholic angels.

Eventually the team broke through the darkness (thanks to Tom Coughlin and a kid called Eli) and posted some pretty major wins. Joe’s vocabulary didn’t change much but the winning seasons made the depth of his despair less painful to witness – and the need to make movie or shopping plans less necessary.

Tomorrow night will be the fourth Super Bowl since that screaming, blustery ÜberFan was silenced. However his little girl is now twenty and, of course, she is a massive fan of the NY Giants. Although Eli and the guys are not in tomorrow’s game, she tells me that she will be bellied up to a bar in London (she is studying abroad this semester) so she can watch the big game and scream, jump up and down and, yes, hurl some expletives at those darn Patriots, the nemesis of her beloved father. I think I will stay home to watch the game. Maybe sit here, in his favorite chair, and try out a few expletives of my own. 🙂

 

Change, Change, Change – Part Two

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Tempus fugit.

Scroll forward eight years …. years filled with all the emotion of raising a bright, beautiful young daughter. It was her – always her – that kept us grounded; that kept us moving forward; that filled our lives with joy and pride and brought us to our knees in prayers for her health and happiness. We were so focused on her that we forgot to pay much attention to ourselves. Oops.

The next change started out slowly. While I cannot remember the exact date when we took that first trip to the hospital, I do remember being scared, so very scared. My big strong husband was a quiet man but that night he was not just quiet – he was still. He was stretched out on the couch, his hand on his heart. He called me over, ever so quietly, and told me that he needed me to drive him to the hospital. I tried to ask questions but he waved me away. In hindsight, it seems odd that it never even occurred to me to call an ambulance. He wanted to get in the car and go to the hospital. So off we went. Our daughter was at a friend’s house. Before leaving,  I called the friend’s parents and asked them to hold onto her until I knew what was going on.

He wouldn’t talk. He just sat quietly, staring ahead, wincing every time I hit a bump in the road. Our local hospital is only about twenty minutes away from our house but it seemed an eternity to get there. But we did get there and he was taken right into the emergency room. The medical professionals were not fooling around. We all thought he was having a heart attack.

But it wasn’t a heart attack – it was angina. And this wasn’t the last time I would go through this particular drama. It happened over and over again until the doctors finally got the meds right and Joe learned to manage his anxiety. The late night trips to the hospital finally stopped. I thought we were in the clear. HA! Continue reading