Saturday, November 14, 2015

Excited to have a "second" to my having a similar writing style to Emma Bombeck...another Mom that freely confessed in writing how crazy Family Life and Momlife can get. I tried to as well. Check out this excerpt from The MoMmY-Go-RoUnD. This one takes this Mom back to some CrAzY moments on the court shared with a happy-go-lucky friend who too soon was lost to breast cancer. Remembering Sue this month especially as we gathered for our reunion and also for October Breast Cancer Awareness month... Miss you Sue...wish things could have been different for you...

In Memory of Sue Haldeman

From The MoMmY-Go-RoUnD:
Chapter 23: Take me OUT of the Ball Game???

I know I’m speaking to the hearts AND bodies of some of you when I say that gym class and even sport teams often provide ample opportunities for some students to sit on the sidelines and catch up on their rest, their reading, their social time! I’ve even seen girls do each other’s hairs (despite my encouragement to watch the game or coach will never put you in!). That’s right, no matter how much they want to, SOMETIMES simply NO exercise will be permitted! Instead, as ridiculous as it sounds, if you are new at a sport or considered second string, they often find themselves sitting on the bench, talking or goofing off with friends, catching up on homework and at times, even laughing at their own stagnating skills. At least that’s how I remember it! In 7th grade, 8th grade, 9th, you name it, I was forever waiting… make that waiting to be picked for a team, much less to play! At the time, I shared this “last chosen” place of honor with a friend Sue, who I later heard had married, become a Mom but sadly died of cancer in her late 20’s. In high school, she was found guilty of being a little too short, and thus frequently BENCHED but I remember her bubbly personality that helped both of us cope with being some of the last chosen. Despite our less than impressive roles in gym class, the camaraderie we shared sitting on way too many sidelines was irreplaceable. Little did I know that years later, our antics on and off the court would come back to help me play ball!

Basketball was the best for us. Sooner or later, someone got tired of running up and down the court and they were forced to PUT US IN! We were Mutt and Jeff out there. My long skinny arms and legs (yes they were skinny in those days!) flailing about as I ran up and down the court! What my efforts at rebounding lacked in effectiveness, I made up for entertaining the troops, alias our gym class. Over the years, I could be counted on to miss the lay up, strike out – UNLESS we were bowling, shoot my own eyeglasses off in archery, get physically tied up trying to string the bow, break my middle finger trying to catch a football, and so on. I could make even the most patient gym teacher eventually roll their eyes, shake their heads in sympathetic disbelief. Regardless, on the basketball court or from the sidelines, I’d hear Sue cheering me on, making me laugh at myself – “Go Spidey!!” It was her nickname for me that accurately captured my “all arms and legs” look that so resembled a Spider out on the court. It’s amazing I wasn’t squashed out there – run over by the REAL athletes, playing for keeps! I know I didn’t hit many baskets but I made a great defensive player, slowing the other players down as they held their sides laughing at my uncoordinated self, arms, legs, and ball flying about!

Fast forward – I find myself in a most unexpected role…A Mother of Kids in Sports!

I previously shared a little soccer history but I haven’t mentioned my childhood favorite, basketball. Now once again, despite our advice on his “game plan,” my son made the fatal sports mistake of not going out for basketball the first year he was eligible, putting himself behind his classmates’ skill level and experience. But the second year, he was there for the team. Regretfully, though, it was the second string team. And attending a school with no gym meant only 1 hour practices at a neighborhood gym held only a couple times a week. It was not off to a good start. With such short practices, he wouldn’t get much of an opportunity to shoot, instead he and other non-1st string players mainly played defense to the 1st string's offense....It felt like it was a no win situation, this time with him being stuck on the sidelines with little opportunity to even learn to play or shoot. Feeling his pain, I longed to find some way to help him escape my ever sidelined fate.

So in a crazed Mother’s rather desperate attempt to spare her son from the basketball blues, I decided to take matters into my own hands, me the girl least likely to succeed on the court. So despite the cold winter months or the dark night sky above as I got home from work, and finished feeding the family, “Coach” Spidey’s team practice would commence, complete with winter coats and gloves.

Nathan and I practiced basketball many evenings and weekends through that winter and surprisingly, despite his coach (i.e. Me), it really seemed like it was helping him. We ran drills together, practiced lay ups and long shots, dribbled, passed, etc. I told him my "Spidey" stories from gym class days and had him actually laughing at B-ball Spider-style! He was actually hitting the basket repeatedly and at one count, 7 times in a row! I was sure Angels were looking out for both of us. Maybe one in particular, a certain basketball Mom now in heaven was also enjoying our reminiscing and started watching out for me too because just like him, I actually started hitting the basket during our practices!! Something wonderful was happening despite the daytime basketball disappointments. My son and I were getting closer and we were having fun together, on our outdoor home “court,” (if you can call it that) despite the night or the cold or his status on the school team. My son’s confidence and his spirits started to rise and he actually thanked me on numerous occasions (and it wasn’t even Mother’s Day!). I guess even he realized that ‘basketball coach’ might not really be part of the job description of a MOM, especially one who was once labeled “Spidey.”

Seasons progressed and I think we both started to look forward to our practices and our talks and while we developed our own memories, we never forgot Sue or my memories of her and Spidey on the court. There were no buses for away games so like other parents, I was sometimes a team driver and their photographer whenever possible. They were up against a team that they had never beat before, a team who had the added bonus of their own court and who were known for their basketball skills. It was an exciting game right down to the last minute. Nathan even got in for a few minutes and managed to hit a couple three point throws. In an exciting conclusion which came down to the final seconds, our team beat them by 1 point!! It was a game to remember!

As we headed home that night, we discussed the excitement of the game! And quietly I heard Nathan contemplating that every point counted to make the win. I knew what he was thinking. I was thinking the same thing. His couple of 3 pointers contributed to the win. They made a difference. Second string or not, he made a difference that game and I suspect finally felt a part of the team. My heart soared seeing him have this moment of success! It was worth everything, including a little frostbite. I think even Sue would have been proud. He had escaped that sideline at least for a little while.

Thinking of you Sue, and the classmates who for many reasons may not be there tonight. We’ll miss you.

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