My dad would’ve turned 73 today. This is the fifth birthday we haven’t celebrated, and I’m still waiting for that not to suck. I expect that day will never come.
I’ve been combating my sadness this week by focusing on good memories, one of which has been top of mind, given that the Super Bowl is tomorrow. This year just happens to be the 25th anniversary of when Dad and his best friend Bud went to California to see the Super Bowl, which was one of the happiest moments of his life.
I told the story of the trip four years ago, when the Giants played in – and won! – the first Super Bowl after Dad died:
In 1987, the Giants made it to the Super Bowl, and their first chance at a national title since the 1950s, when my dad was a teenager. A true fan, as in fanatic , he jumped at the chance to go to Pasadena for the game when his lifelong best friend called and announced he’d gotten tickets. The story of Dad and Bud’s California adventure — and the related tale of the snowstorm that trapped them in St. Louis Kansas City on the way home — has become the stuff of family legend, and both the ticket and commemorative seat cushion had places honor in my parents’ upstairs bedroom. (No, I’m not kidding. My mom is an unusual woman to have let such things happen without a fuss.)
I think the Giants’ next Super Bowl, in 1991,* came too close on the heels of their first to justify another road trip, and by 2001, Dad’s MS had progressed to the point where that kind of travel just wasn’t an option, but his enthusiasm was undimmed. I’m sure it would be over-stating to say he never missed a game on tv, but he planned his weekend around the Giants in the same way he did around church; that is to say, pretty consistently.
When Dad died last March, we buried him in his Giants jacket.
What I didn’t realize then, and only just recently thought to ask about, is that there were pictures from that trip. My mom sent them to me last week – along with a newspaper article about their adventure – and I can think of no better way to celebrate my dad’s birthday than showing him at his happiest.
I don’t pretend to have any faith in what the afterlife does or does not entail, but I like to think that Dad is in the heaven he believed in, one that I hope includes seats on the 50-yard line in Indianapolis, so he can cheer his Giants on to another championship.
Happy birthday, Daddy. I love and miss you always, and Let’s Go Giants!