I lost my Papa two years ago today. I woke thinking about him this morning, his laugh, his sparkling eyes, the way he’d hold his chin between his thumb and second finger when he was thinking, the way he looked on his 90th birthday the month before he passed. It was the last time I felt his spirit all there, the last time I had a chance to tell him I loved him and hear how he loved me back.
Today I was flipping through the channels, checking the college football games. Clemson was winning, of course. I couldn’t get interested in much of anything, waiting for Utah’s game to start later and BYU to start later still, when I stumbled on a game I couldn’t believe was on television.
Bloomsburg University v. East Stroudsburg on ESPN 3.
I grew up in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, a town about the size of Lehi or Logan, I should think. Bloomsburg didn’t become a university until about when I graduated from high school, but it was the location for many of my father’s table tennis club meetings and matches, and the place where I swam hundreds of miles as a kid, so I knew it well.
When I saw the game, I texted my brother to tell him. “You’re never going to believe who’s playing on ESPN 3?” Dave said I should take it as a wink from Dad, and so I do.
I never think of my father, especially his passing and the latter years of his life, without thinking of my brother. My brother devoted his middle age to caring for my parents. That is not an overstatement. My mother moved in with my brother when he was in his 40’s, and he cared for her until she passed. Then Dave cared for my father for most of his life until he passed when my brother was 55. And so without planning to do so or knowing he would, he and his wife devoted their middle age to our parents.
I suppose fall is a melancholy time for me, perhaps for many of us, with all the letting go of the warmth and playfulness of summer. I don’t mean to say I don’t love it. It is my favorite season. I love the leaves, the chill in the air, the sound of referees blowing their whistles. Penalty will be assessed on the kickoff. I can almost hear the call from the field at Copper Hills High School just blocks from my home.
It was a joy watching games with my Papa growing up, as it is watching them with my brother now, even when we watch them thousands of miles from each other.
The Bloomsburg Huskies won today, by the way, 22-17. Hope you got to see the game, Papa.