George always took a week of vacation to watch the opening rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. He loved every second. What could be better than watching basketball for hours and hours? Even teams he did care about, if they were dancing, he watched. All week. Iona, Butler, Little Sisters of the Poor–he didn’t care if they were playing Florida or Louisville. He just wanted to watch every moment.
For that reason and in honor of George, I’ve filled out my brackets. I’m recording all games this week on four different channels PLUS the women’s games. At the end of this week, he’d hope that University of Louisville would go on to the sweet sixteen because, as much as he loved basketball in general, he loved Louisville most. He’d bring up Charley Tyra (in picture on right) or Butch Beard or Wes Unseld or Junior Bridgeman and tell incredible stories of positioning and rebounding.
I heard the same stories every year. I know them well. Thoughts of the rebounding prowess of Tyra always reminds me that spring has arrived.
These weeks go so fast. In no time, we’ll be down to the final four–then basketball will be over with nothing to look ahead to but college football.
During these days, I think of George. Ihope he’s dropped his feet over the edge of heaven so he can get a good view in Dallas or wherever any team is playing. Eternal basketball would be part of George’s idea of heaven. And–this makes me smile and cry at the same time–I think of George settling down with his Kindle and his chewing gun and a short rope of red licorice to cheer for his Cardinals. He’s wearing his favorite UofL shirts, easy to find inside the pearly gates. Then the game starts and I can almost hear him shout, “C-A-R-D-S”.
Knowing how much I love University of Louisville basketball and that George and I used to watch every game together, two lovely couples from church each invited me to watch the Louisville/Wichita State game with them on Saturday. I do have wonderful friends and want to express my deep appreciation to Rhonda and Drew, Karen and Bob. However, I turned both couples down.
I’m a terrible person to watch basketball with. Much of this comes from my father who was a huge University of Kansas fan. He took me to nearly every KU basketball and football game from the time I was three or four until I left for college and Kansas State. He was the most pessimistic fan I’ve ever known. When the Jayhawks were thirty points ahead and the opponents hit a basket, he’d say,”Oh, we’re going to lose this one. We’ve blown it.” Heredity or nurture, I don’t know but I’m the same way. I don’t know why I want my Cards to do well because the better they do, the farther they go in a tournament, the more miserable I am during the game. Close games are nerve wracking. There are no leads big enough to calm me. I go outside. I move to another room. I play computer games or do crossword puzzles. I change channels and watch House Hunters International for ten minutes before going back to check the score. And, when Payton steals a ball or Russ drives, I will rewind and replay that, even four or five times so I can see how the play happened.
No one wants to spend a few hours with a person like me. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t want to watch with anyone because then I’d have to behave. When George and I watched together, I did behave. Oh, I still moved around and did crossword puzzles, but he held on the the remote so I couldn’t watch a play over and over . He did NOT allow me to change channels.
So, again, thank you, dear friends. I hope you’ll watch and cheer for Louisville but you truly do not want me around.