Today is “Super Bowl Sunday,” and with it comes quite a few memories. You see, when the NFL lengthened it’s season a few years ago, it put the Super Bowl on the same weekend that my mom and dad would make their annual trek to Freed-Hardeman University for their lectureship. That meant that they would be at our house on Super Bowl Sunday. This also meant that I got to watch, with my dad, the Steelers defeat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL and the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
That may not mean a lot to you, but I cherish those memories. For those of you who know me, you know how much I enjoy the Steelers. But, Dad was worse (or better). He loved watching the Steelers play. When I was a boy in the early 70’s, the Steelers were such a powerhouse. Dad and I would watch the game every Sunday afternoon after church services. I can still hear him yelling, “Go Franco, Go!” or “Great catch, Swanny!” The Steelers gave him so much enjoyment.
So 25 years later, the Steelers were once again to win two more Super Bowls. In 2006 and in 2008, they won it again, and I had the privilege to watch those games with my dad. I got to hear him excitedly yell again, not for Franco, Terry, or Swann, but for “the Bus,” “Big Ben,” “Hines Ward,” and “Fast Willie Parker.” I got to watch again how he would tug at his socks when he got nervous. (They were black ankle socks before the game, but by the end of a close game, he’d nearly have them stretched over his knees!) I even got him to wear a “Get on the Bus” T-shirt for the game (if you knew my dad, you would know that T-shirts weren’t his thing – but these were “game shirts” and who knows, we may have lost if we wouldn’t have worn them).
I can’t begin to tell you how much I treasure those memories because this year my mom and dad won’t be stopping by to watch the game with me. I know Dad’s much better off, but I really miss him. His fingerprints are everywhere. Today is just one of those days when I can hear his voice so clearly. It’s through teary eyes I smile as I remember…it’s bitter sweet.