Monday, March 7, 2011

Like A Breath Rippling By

If real-life had better writers (my preference would be Pete Hamill) then today's contribution to the clutter out here in cyberspace would be about Frank's triumphant weekend in Atlantic City. The former does not. Thus the latter is not.

A stellar season, which was in fact the final quarter of what had been from Day One a terrific high school career, ended a bit sooner than any of us hoped it would. Frank lost his preliminary round match Friday night 3-2. The defeat ended his senior season and with it his high-school career. And while Margaret's brother Frank and his beloved C have a sextet of kids, Joe and Frank are the only sons. With Frank's exit from the mat on Friday night, an era ended.

The collective spirit on Friday night was - not surprisingly - low. Everyone was disappointed and saddened for Frank, given how much work he had put in to make it to the State Championship. It is human nature of course and there is nothing wrong with that type of purely personalized reaction.....even when it fails to account for the fact that the young man against whom he competed Friday night had undoubtedly worked just as hard to earn his spot in the State Championship field as had Frank. For him, the dream was likely as consuming as it was for Frank.

Rational thought re-emerged Saturday morning. To the surprise of no one, the sun came up. To the delight of everyone, life went on. We forget sometimes because we are so close to a particular set of circumstances that disappointment and tragedy are not synonyms. Nor are they interchangeable terms. Falling short of a goal in high school athletics may be a disappointment. It is never a tragedy.

Over the past couple of days I thought - as I sometimes do - about Suzy B. My mother-in-law died two years ago this June. She battled gamely against a particularly virulent and sinister cancer for the final five and one-half years of her life. There were days that it was more than just a struggle for her to lift her head off of her pillow and get herself out of bed.

Yet because she lived where she and Joe lived for roughly the final half-century of her life, which is about one mile from both of her children, she was a very involved, hands on Nona. Illness took much from her but not her spirit and not her love of watching her grandchildren participate in absolutely everything. While I must confess that I myself never made it to any of the girls' events, I was part of Nona's road crew for too many football games and wrestling matches to count. Regardless of the size of the venue, Margaret always seemed to be able to find a seat for her mom down front, which was critically important at wrestling matches. While I do not think that Suzy B. ever acquired a tremendous amount of wrestling knowledge (I certainly possess none to share), her status as the #1 fan of her grandsons was unchallenged.

I thought about Suzy B. and her passion for the endeavors of her grandchildren over the course of the past couple of days. Over the course of the past eight years, her two grandsons did quite well for themselves on the wrestling mat. And because of the way Margaret's family works - having taken to heart the lessons learned from Suzy B. - all of us who wanted to had the chance to watch and root for them.

The song is over. Yet, the song goes on. Forever.

-AK

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