When you lose a parent (or any close family member or friend), the year after their death is full of Firsts. First Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday... and each one brings emotions that you may not expect. Today, nearly a year after my dad died, I'm experiencing a First that completely snuck up on me.
First College Football Saturday.
My dad was a sports fan. He liked golf and tennis and college basketball, and while he didn't watch a ton of major league baseball, he was glued to the Little League World Series every year. One of the sports that he and I shared a love of was college football. My mom and brother are also college football fans, but living in western Pennsylvania in the 70's and 80's we had a choice to make: Pitt or Penn State. My dad and I were Penn State fans.
Every year I look forward to the beginning of football season. I love football Saturdays and I have no problem planting myself in front of the TV all day and evening to watch any game. This year I haven't felt as excited. I know that a lot of this feeling has to do with the off-field issues at Penn State. I won't go into all that here except to say that I hate what went on and I'm angry with those responsible and I'm fine with the sanctions. But I'm still a fan.
What I finally realized this morning while watching Gameday on ESPN is that a bigger part of my not-so-enthusiastic attitude is an absence that has nothing to do with who is coaching or playing. This year, I can't call my dad after a big play. I won't hear his voice on the phone saying "what's going on with our team?" Who knew that something as (truly) insignificant as football would stir up all these feelings? Not me.
So I think that today, while I'll definitely have the games playing on TV, I'll also keep myself busy with other things.
Hope you're watching, Dad.