Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If Time Travel Were Possible...

From a great thread on a Bama msg board I frequent. "If you could go back in time and watch any Bama football game, which one would you choose?"

(note: to use a borrowed phrase, there's a huge head fake in this topic...keep reading, even if you couldn't care less about Bama football games past or present...)

Naturally, I couldn't just pick one. So here are a few of mine, along with my explanation as to why I'd go watch...These are not in order, except for the last one, which would be my one first choice by a long way.

--Bama v. Auburn, Tuscaloosa, about 3 years ago. The good guys lost...but this was my 1st Iron Bowl with my son sitting beside me. He drove over from Oxford & met me; we had a BLAST. Thus, it will always be one of my favorite games, despite the outcome.

--Bama v. Miami, Sugar Bowl, 1993. We destroyed the 'Canes, made all the sweeter by (a) the non-stop noise talked by the Cane players and the media before the game, (b) the fact that this game led to us winning our 12th national championship. But beyond all that, I attended this game...with Lisa's Dad sitting right there beside me. A great, great evening & road trip because of the company I was keeping that evening.

--Bama v. Auburn, 1985, Legion Field, Birmingham, AL. This game will always be known as "The Kick". Van Tiffen--father of current Tide kicker Leigh Tiffen--kicked a 52-yard field with just a couple of minutes left in the game to win it 25-23. The new mrs. beachbum was, of course, sitting there beside me. The game was awesome, but going w/ her was incredible.

--Bama v. KY, Legion Field, 1980. Defending nat'l champs Bama thrashed the Cats. Tide linebacker E.J. Junior was a force; UK had no answer (nor did anyone else who had to face EJ that year...). But the utterly-cool thing about that game is that it was my first as an actual UA student after transferring from the U. of FL. I was in the company of a number of folks who would impact my spiritual life significantly over the next few years. I also found myself wondering about this former UA coed I know who watched her first game as a student some 30ish years earlier...did she have the same excitement and anticipation of the game?--but much more--of what her time @ UA would mean to her? Maybe I'll ask her over lunch today...she & her husband Leo are visiting us for the weekend. Love you, Mom! Roll Tide!

--Bama v. Auburn, Legion Field, 1982 (or so). We had no answer for the great Bo Jackson of Auburn. He ran for nearly 300 yards that day. We lost. So, why would I go back to that one?? Because it's still the single greatest football performance I've ever seen live & in person. Incredible performance, even if it was against my guys. The future mrs. bb was there by my side.

--Bama v. Penn St., Tuscaloosa, about 1986. We won 6-0 in one of the best games I've ever seen. Old-school defensive struggle, with guys regularly limping off of the field, only to return a couple of plays later after the hamster climbed back on the little wheel and after the application of copious amounts of tape. Hardest hitting game I ever saw. Cornelius Bennett must have had 20 tackles that day for us. Neither offense could move the ball. We got w/in field goal range twice, and that was it. mrs. bb was there, as was a friend & classmate from India who was watching his 1st ever football game. Naturally, the great Joe Paterno was on the sidelines that day as head coach of the Nittany Lions, which added to the experience.

--Bama v. Notre Dame, Legion Field, about 1986. This game's known among the Tide faithful as "The Sack." Cornelius Bennett came in untouched and blasted Notre Dame QB Steve Buerlein. A totally awesome play. The Tide won big. A couple of guys walked around late in the game with a sign that said "This One's for You, Bear". I had some flashbacks...

...which leads favorite. The one I'd pick over all of these.

--Bama v. Notre Dame, Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Sugar Bowl, January 1974 (or so). Pre-Superdome. Sat in the rain & watched my guys lose by one point to the hated Irish. Coach Bryant called this the greatest game he saw. So why in the round world is THIS one on the list? First, I met Coach Bryant after the game, which is just all kinds of cool. But much more, this was the only game I ever watched with James E. Madaris, Dad, who loved the Tide more than most. He died suddenly the next December of a heart attack when he was 3 years younger than I am now.

I'd give pretty much anything I've had since then to be able to go back & sit with Dad at that game again, even with the same outcome. He was great at being a serious, passionate fan without becoming...well, a north end of a south-bound horse. That particular way of being a fan is fairly well a lost art these days. (Even at the high school level!) Anyway, what a joy it was to share that game with Dad--even tho the wrong team won! I've remembered that experience at every game I've attended--Bama's or anyone else's!--since then. I dearly love the game in & of itself...but I'll always wonder if part of the reason isn't that football in gen'l--Bama football in particular--presents one of my most vivid memories of time spent with my Dad. At pretty much every game since then, I've had a very powerful "Dad, I remember" moment.

So, did you catch the head fake? I even "head-faked" myself with this one. I started out writing about some of my favorite Bama football games. Turns out, though, that this post actually has very little to do with football. Which really makes me wonder...I LOVE football, especially college football, and especially Crimson Tide football. Have loved it all my life. I wonder, in light of the head fake here, if my love of the game isn't really a celebration by me of some key people in my life. Especially my wife...and of my kids who are now loving their respective schools' teams...and of my parents, one of which is a two-time UA grad & the other of which was a serious UA fan for his all-too-short 47 years on earth.

Make no mistake. I love the violence of the game...the hits...the blocks (as a father of a former offensive lineman, I really love the blocks!)...the strategies...the fakes...the scores...the interceptions...the strength & athleticism...God help me, I so very much love all of that. But I'm beginning to decide that much of what I really love is the people in my life who I remember each & every time I watch a game. Any game.

I can't wait until Saturday's games on TV. And the next USM home game I get to watch live. And my yet-untaken annual jaunts to Oxford and to Starkville to watch football, while hanging out with my favorite pharmacy student & my favorite psych major...And maybe, just maybe, a trip to Tuscaloosa will occur at some point in the not-too-distant future.

And once again, I'll choke back a tear as the team takes the field.

Roll Tide! Thanks Lisa...and James & Anne...and Mom...and Dad. Also, thanks Gary & Kelly & Ken & Aunt Daisy & Uncle George & all the rest who loved me when I arrived there in 1980 as an angry, childish, remarkably un-love-able lout. I hope you know that you've made a huge difference in my life.


Monday, October 26, 2009

A Common Thread

1. I've known her since she was in high school. She has always been an excellent role model of how the Christian faith should be lived out in the real world. Rock solid faith. Excellent character. A great role model in her professional life. Then an excellent wife. Now an excellent mother of three. Always smiling. Everybody's friend. This past Friday, she had tough and serious surgery. When she recovers, she'll have radiation & chemo.

2. I've known him for a few years. He has become a great friend. By which I mean, a servant who always has the best interest of others at heart. He is one of the great church members I've ever known. Again, servant minded. Takes his faith and the Bible very seriously, and yet is very patient with those who take them less so. A leader who leads by serving and by example. An excellent husband and father of four. This past Friday, his Dad was diagnosed with a very serious cancer. Earlier today, he took his Dad to the 1st, critical appt. with the surgeon. The news got worse. Chemo, radiation, and then surgery. This one will likely have a huge impact on a large number of family members.

3. I just met her this past weekend in person, although we've known each other through a mutual friend for some time. She is a sweetie, and is known as such by all who know her. Has always been known as such. Last year, she had surgery and chemo. Now, she is about to undergo treatment for her second go-round with a different type of cancer. She delayed this treatment in order to be available for her son's last summer before college. He graduated from HS in May, and began college this Fall. She has her priorities straight.

Catch the common thread? All three of these great folks have had their lives turned upside down & inside out by cancer. Their own or that of a loved one.

Forgive the coarseness, but cancer just sucks. In the midst of this fearsome dread disease whose mere mention evokes terror, a sovereign God magnifies Himself in the lives of His servants. He's doing so in the lives of all three of these friends. And their families. But from an earthly perspective, it just sucks.

Would you please join me in praying for all three of these friends of mine? The Lord knows their names. My life is better because all three of them are part of it. I'm so thankful that each crossed my path. My selfish prayer is for complete and total healing, followed by a long & joy-filled life. My slightly-less-selfish prayer is for God to pour out His Spirit on all affected by these three illnesses, and to draw each of my friends all the closer to him. (Although, all three are mighty dadburn close to Christlike already...). And that He would make each mindful of His awesome presence and love and power and fear-removing capabilities, along with the wisdom He bestows on Drs...

I consider it a huge personal favor for you to lift up these. Thank You for them, Father. And for all who will be praying for them in the days to come.

And while you're at it, please pray for all who are doing research desperately seeking a once-and-for-all cure. Thank You for them too, Father.

With love and hope,

Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?”
Job 26:14

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Other Woman...

The Other Woman - Larnelle Harris
Time goes by…Much too fast
But the memories I have will always last
Like the risk of that first step
And the first word I heard her say
I knew she’d be the only other woman
That I could ever love this way
She’s become the other woman in my life
She’s the evidence of love
Between me and my wife
When she was a baby I held her
And as a young girl I watched her
Become the other woman in my life

Soon she’ll be on her own
Making choices she must live with all alone
But I pray she won’t forget what’s been the truth
Right from the start
She’ll always be that special little lady
That heaven placed into my heart
Watching her grow is like seeing a flower begin to bloom
As it follows the morning sun
And knowing that God’s not done
And knowing He’s just begun
She’s growing up and I love her so
But it’s almost time to let her go
She’s become the other woman in my life
She’s the evidence of love
Between me and my wife
When she was a baby I held her
And as a young girl I watched her
Become the other woman in my life
(lyrics end; back to bb)

Rebecca Anne Madaris is 19 years old this day. *jumps up & down in excitement*
She has been the other woman in my life ever since I watched her take her first breath. And she will remain the other woman until I take my last.
She now no longer resides in my house. *sighs* *composes self*
Yesterday, her big brother was sooooo excited when we brought her home. Today, she gets excited about going to a football game at her school, Mississippi State University. (And yeah...she does "get" the finer points of the game. Just this week, she was griping about the interceptions the QB there threw...)
Yesterday, she was "daddy's gull." Today...ok, she's still daddy's gull, though the nature of that has changed remarkably.
Yesterday, boys were kind of stupid. Today...they (we) still are, but now they're kind of fun to have around. And some have hung around over the past few years *narrows eyes menacingly* *smiles*
Yesterday, I didn't have the faintest clue how to raise a daughter. Today, I'm not sure I've caught a clue yet...but I'm sure trying hard to be a good distance-Dad, & am enjoying the difficult journey immensely!
Yesterday, she was all potential and dreams. Today, some of that potential & some of those dreams have already been realized, but she still has enormous potential and still dreams big dreams. I dream big dreams for her.
Yesterday, she got excited when I came home from work. Today, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp,...
Yesterday, I was her favorite singer. Today, it's John Mayer, or Dave Matthews, or some rap star. *smile*

OK, I'll stop now. just swapped a few text messages with the other woman in my life.
Happy Birthday, Anne!! I love you more than my meager writing skills can say!

('s blurry...but it's one of my favorite pics of us. Taken @ the MSU BSU when Tony spoke earlier this term. And yes, if you're wondering...I am *very* proud of that shirt! If she had gone to Notre Dame *shudders* I would've been proud of that shirt too...Thanks for wondering!)