Sunday, February 5, 2012

SOC Sunday: Missing a Giant

Yup, it's Sunday. Time to take a short tour of my brain. You're welcome.

If you're in the United States of America and not in a coma, you probably realize today was Superbowl Sunday. I live in New York. Our team was in the damn thing (yeah, they won - whoot!) and yet most of the day I kept forgetting. Because this is New York City and full of artsy-fartsy people and folk who hail from distant lands and all sorts of others that couldn't care less about the whole football thing. (Also sports bars and Times Square full of rabid crazed fans. We co-exist.)

I spent much of the afternoon and evening with my dear Australian friend and her kids. Her son is quite enamored of the British sport that THEY call football & we call soccer. Ethan had wanted to watch the game, not because he cares all that much about the sport but because "all the kids are going to be talking about it at school tomorrow." 

But you know? In that case, he shouldn't have been so obnoxious today and especially not made fun of his brother and the way he cries. Because that? Got him banned from screens for the rest of the day by about noon. (By bedtime that loss-of-screens-privilege had been extended through Tuesday. Yeah, it was one of THOSE Sundays.)

But moments after I declared "That was really unacceptable behavior! You just lost screens for the rest of the day, sir" I wanted to kick myself. Because I had forgotten about the damn Superbowl. I wanted to watch. Not the whole thing, but bits here and there, and certainly the halftime show and the 4th quarter.

And of course I had to be a "good, consistent parent" so couldn't backpedal on the ban. Damn! 

My husband is so not into sports (despite his childhood love of baseball and all things Yankee) was happily off to a work-related dinner tonight. And i am certainly not a big sports fan either. But the Superbowl is special.

And I used to watch it all the time. 

With my Dad. 

Everything I know about sports is because of him. He was an artist and intellectual, but also a true sports fanatic, and of all the sports he loved, it was football he loved the most, and his New York teams: The Jets and The Giants.

He raised me to know the difference between a halfback and a fullback, to quickly eyeball the yards left to a first down at the end of a play, to hold my breath waiting to see if both feet landed inbounds, inside that all-important white line when a catch was made at the field's edge.
Like tonight. He would have loved to see that masterful catch.

I missed the game tonight. And then, hearing triumphant shouts and screams erupting from my neighbors' apartments all around, turning on the TV just as the confetti cannons were going off and everyone was streaming onto the field, I watched a bit of the postgame, saw the highlights replayed, the gatorade upended, the players stroking and kissing that football shaped trophy with all the reverence of my tribe during services, touching tallis fringe to the passing torah, and then to lips.

I heard the gracious, wooden speeches with one ear, but my heart was tuned in to another voice.

"Daddy" I said, quietly, to the empty room. 

"Daddy, we won." And the cat in my lap, oblivious, kept purring as the tears slid down my face. 

I miss him now in a not-every-day way, the commonness of his absence settled in, these nearly two years passed since his passing.  And that last winter, he had slipped so far from the earth by the time he finally departed, I couldn't even rouse him for a game, not even the Superbowl.

I remember so clearly the great Jets of my childhood, the name "Joe Namath" spoken by my Dad with reverence, watching that legendary game, the '69 Superbowl, with him on our old black and white TV.

I wish you had been here with me tonight, Dad. And not the frail, faded old man of your final years (though I love, loved him none the less), but the passionate-about-art, full-of-life middle aged Dad of my childhood. Or the feisty 80 year-old in Sarasota, who was playing tennis and swimming and photographing and dancing with friends and enjoying the hell out of his retirement.

We would have raised a glass of Shiraz together and toasted our Giants. And I probably would have let Ethan watch with us, ban be damned, because your joy at a game well played could not be missed. He should have seen that, shared that.

I wish Ethan and Jake could have known you then, Dad, the full you. At six foot, a giant for your generation. A giant of a man in my heart, always. 

Dad in Florida, 1999
Dad & Me, 1969

OK, sorry this wasn't quite a "real" SOC post. It started as one, but when I saw where it was going, I had to turn off the clock, let it spin out to its conclusion. 

And also? Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! We WON! OK, I'll stop gloating now. Sorry Boston, Vermont, & New Hampshire friends.
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