Thursday, September 30, 2010

A football game

In recent Septembers, mostly since my grandfather died in 2005, I've thought about a Bears game he took me to when I was almost 10 in 1980. This might have been one of the few things we did just us. My grandfather was technically my step-grandfather, and in 1980, he and my grandmother had been married about three years. From the start of their marriage, we started calling him Grandpa, and for the next 28 years, my sisters and I were blessed he took on the grandfather role that would have otherwise been absent in our lives.

I'm not sure why he wanted to take me to a Bears game, but I think he got tickets through a local hotel or other business (tickets were easier to come by then). I'd stay overnight at my grandparents' house, and the next morning, we drove to a hotel from where the bus down to Soldier Field would depart.

The night before the game, my grandmother and I saw "Urban Cowboy" at a theater in Lombard. We got there late and ended up staying to see the first half-hour of the movie. Near our seats, someone had spilled a big container of popcorn in the aisle, and Grandma was paranoid that people were walking by and thinking we made the mess. We came home, and my grandfather had a "Saturday Night Live" rerun on with Carrie Fisher (I know it was a rerun because this was the SNL season in which the whole cast changed after Lorne Michaels was fired; this episode featured the original cast).

The next morning, Grandpa and I went to the hotel and had breakfast before the bus left. I remember us not talking too much during breakfast, or the whole day. I was admittedly a little intimidated by him back then -- he was a very stern paternal figure. I also noticed part of one his fingers was missing (to this day, I still don't know how he lost it), and I think that sort of freaked me out, too.

I don't remember the game much, unfortunately. Looking at the Bears' schedule for that season, they either defeated the Saints or lost to the Vikings. I'm assuming I enjoyed the game. My grandfather had told Grandma the reason he took me instead of his other grandson was because he knew I'd appreciate it more.

When I hear some songs from this time period ("Emotional Rescue" by the Rolling Stones and "Looking for Love" by Johnny Lee -- which was from "Urban Cowboy" spring to mindd), I usually go back to this weekend with my grandparentns. "Emotional Rescue" unfortunately brings me back to five years ago, right after he died, when a quick, tiring fever hit me at their house, and how when I was finally able to lay down, I heard that song on my iPod in a feverish daze.

Thirty years later, I just wish I had not been so intimidated of him that day and talked to him. Maybe he didn't know what to say to me, either. We started the whole grandfather/grandson thing late, and I'm thankful he made the effort to try to catch up. We did eventually, but there was a lot about him I didn't know, and I lot I wanted to thank him for but never got a chance to before he died. I wish that morning when I noticed the half-finger, I would have asked him instead of being unnerved. I'm sure I would have heard a good story about it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I have somehow fallen into a pattern in which I'm not getting to bed until after midnight, am sleeping a little too late, and am tired all day. I'm even yawning as I type this from Littlest's speech therapy playgroup. I'm not sure how I got into this routine, but with it coinciding with the boys back in school and me not getting too much exercise, I've been sleepy.

At least I'm through fantasy football draft season, which I don't think was helping as I researched and drafted for the current NFL season. I'm hoping I can snap out of this pattern soon. In the meantime, I need some caffeine.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Play ball!

We took the kids to a Salt Lake Bees game today. The Triple-A baseball season is winding down, and this was our last chance to use some free tickets the boys got. We invited one of Eldest's friends, a girl we'll call M who came with her parents. It was their first ballgame ever -- I forget that if you didn't grow up in a big league town, your likelihood of ever seeing a baseball game decreases.

Every time I take Eldest to a sporting event, I try to explain what's going on during the game and get him to pay attention. But he never seems to, and today with M -- they are so goofy together -- he wasn't even close. I almost think Littlest was paying more attention to the game. That's OK -- we all had fun at the game. The Bees feature the Bumble Express -- a train that's really a glorified golf cart -- that the kids rode. They also played at the playground beyond center field for an inning. We got ice cream and hats (50 percent off), sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and clapped along whenever the start of "Center field" played. Eldest and M especially liked all the sound effects, including the loud yawn that was played any time the other team was taking its time (which happened often -- the Reno Aces walked a lot of Bees).

The weather was perfect, too. It's September, and fall is almost here. For one last afternoon, we got to enjoy something summery.