Okay, okay; guilty as charged: I admit it; I’m an unrepentant fan of college football, but really, only when my alma mater plays. My team’s the Big Red; the Cornhuskers; the University of Nebraska team, in case you need it spelled out further. I never watch professional football; it seems pretty troglodytic as well as corrupt to me, in fact. But oh; when those scarlet-and-cream Cornshuckers take the field, my heart soars! As I hear the school song blaring, and the crowds roaring, and still feel a part of the stadium full of red-clad fans who are totally pumped, and just primed to do the wave, it’s a slice of heaven! We Nebraskans (and once-Nebraskans) love our team inordinately, and even occasionally go so far as to elect former coaches to the US Congress. Visitors cannot be faulted for not knowing whether Tom Osborne is a major or minor deity to Nebraskans.
Damn, what a thrill Homecoming was, what with the giant red mum corsages the co-eds pinned onto their woolen coats, their high heels clicking along the sidewalk, the longed-for cool, brisk fall air redolent with the spicy scent of the corn-harvesting wafting about the campus. I can so easily imagine myself back there again in the easy camaraderie of the masses of fans heading toward the stadium, thousands upon thousands of Nebraskans with a single goal, streaming toward the stadium. For us, this wasn’t just college football, it was the raison d’être of an entire state! ‘There is no place like Nebraska…where the girls are the fairest, the boys are the squarest’… I’d walk within the throng, holding hands with my four-foot eleven-inch girlfriend as we headed toward sun-drenched stadium nirvana.
What could be more innocently thrilling, more invigorating, than a home game with our historical rivals, Oklahoma? For decades we’d played the Sooners, OU’s team. Even those of us who never otherwise bet on anything would put some wager on the home team. It was a matter of pride as well as confidence in our boys. All these years later, I still get jazzed when we play Oklahoma. I’ll often call my father in Lincoln, and my son wherever he is at the time, prior to kickoff, and again during half-time to either commiserate or celebrate…maybe even when the game’s over; sometimes they’ll call me. It’s great.
Sometimes I’ll even remember to put on my Grandfather’s ugly red satin Cornhusker tie while I watch, if my wife remembers to dig it up for me. She loathes football, and usually reads in the bedroom room during the game, so she brings me the tie in the way of some pointed ribbing. She prides herself on not even knowing the rules, and breaks up when the announcers talk about tight ends, of which position she was made aware by the John Lithgow character in The Hotel New Hampshire. When she can tell that I’m yelling bad things at the television, she’ll crack the door, and pretend to need assurance that I won’t beat her if Nebraska loses. She thinks she’s pretty flipping funny.
My mom had died six months ago. She’d had Alzheimer’s, and had finally needed to go and live in a nursing home. She was ninety, and in relatively good health otherwise, and might have lived a lot longer, but began knowing less and less about the world around her. Once an out-of-control infection almost killed her, but she rebounded from that, even though she was approaching late-stage dementia. I prayed for her to die; life was getting increasing less pleasant for her. One night, she sat up in bed, spoke a few words, and died. She did it right, bless her heart; bye, mom; may you journey well.
My dad had spent the last year adjusting to her eventual departure from his world in that difficult and terrible process that some have called the long goodbye. He wants to stay in their house, and pays no attention to entreaties from my sister to move to an apartment or retirement home near her; damn, he’s a stubborn cuss. A few months ago my sister brought him to Colorado, and she and I shuttled him from one end of the state to the other so he could visit me and my wife and his other relatives around the state. He’s become something of a different person through all this; he even decided he liked my wife after decades of not, sometime during his stay. Weird. Now he can’t say enough nice things about her, and even laughs at her jokes; the first sign of a sense of humor I can recall… He doesn’t even throw a fit when she calls him Old Man, though nobody else can get away with it. She finally asked him, “If ya ain’t old when you’re ninety-two, when the hell are you?” Maybe he finally thought, “Oh. Right.” But in any event, he laughed; another remarkable event. He took to calling her “young lady”; it makes her laugh.
When my sister finally delivered him back home to Nebraska, we all thought he’d been cured of his sorties out into the world. Boy, were we wrong. My brother and his wife invited him to California for a visit to some millionaire’s house they were house-sitting. Complex travel plans were arranged, and off he went again, after a mere few weeks at home. He gallivanted around for a couple weeks on the coast, after which my sister and my dad’s infernal poodle picked him up at the airport in Denver. He was duly exhausted, and eager to get home. They spent the night in a small city not far from Denver so he could see his sister one more (maybe the last) time, and then head back to Lincoln the next morning.
It was Game Day. And by that I mean the day the Cornhuskers played Oklahoma. I’d agreed to keep them abreast of the game by cell phone until they could get far enough east to pick up a radio station carrying the game. We spoke by cell multiple times; it was a close game, and just fantastic. By half-time, Nebraska was a mere three points ahead. But our last call brought news of a real, no pun intended, game-changer.
My sister had just gotten a call from our aunt, our mother’s sister. Her husband, also in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, plus other complications, had experienced some crisis, and his life was ebbing fast. He was in a coma, with no hope of waking without massive brain damage. She asked them to come to them in western Nebraska, as she needed their help.
The ‘help’ was helping her decide whether or not to pull the plug on my uncle’s life. Soon; as in: immediately. I pictured where they were on that long, straight highway heading east on the Great Plains and the yearned-for home for dad; now a detour north was necessary. I cringed at this new burden that had just been laid on my dad’s fragile and aged shoulders. My God.
Whoa; we kicked it around for a bit. My dad was voting to say “no” to the plug-pulling, even though he didn’t seem to have enough information to make an informed decision, but was additionally quite adept at meting out guilt and shame, which Auntie did not need. I thought about it all for a bit, then talked it over with my wife. We came up with some ideas he might want to consider, including the advisability of being more of a sounding board for Auntie, asking questions and allowing her to decide. We figured she should have all the votes, really; he’d been her husband for sixty years, after all. My father’s role should just be a supportive one.
The game resumed, and was getting really competitive. Damn; I bit the bullet and phoned, knowing they were getting closer and closer to Gering and Auntie. I spoke to my sister briefly about my thoughts, thinking that she might remember them better than my dad would later on, and might be able to use a few hints. She then handed her cell to my dad; I tried to keep my foot from tapping with impatience. They weren’t far from the turnoff to the hospital; I launched into my spiel, acknowledging to him that he was walking into a really fraught situation, letting him know I’d be with him in spirit, and was offering my free advice (cheap at twice the price). I didn’t get too far before he interrupted me.
“Mmm-hmmm…thanks, son; what’s the score now? How are we doing?” I told him that Nebraska had just scored, and let him know the score…and eventually said goodbye…to a dead phone; the old man had…fucking hung up. They obviously had come in range of a radio broadcast of…the game.
Gradually I became aware that my head slowly shaking back in forth in utter amazement, having forgotten that a lot of Big Red fans have certain priorities hard-wired into their goddam DNA. In a tick or two, I heard my wife, closeted in our bedroom, but obviously within earshot, burst into peals of laughter that turned into choking and snorting guffaws which finally leveled off into occasional chortles and chuckles as she realized exactly what had happened. I guess my “Dad…dad…dad? Goodbye, dad” were sorta dead giveaways. Nebraskans just fucking kill her. Small wonder.
I’ve reprised this wee story I wrote a number of years ago because Mr. wendydavis and I were reminded of it a week or so ago, and began laughing at the memories. His father, the Old Man, is now 97, and his quadruple by-pass surgery warranty seems to be about up, as is, apparently, his life. He’s been calling the ambulance quite a bit lately to transport him from his unassisted living apartment at a local nursing home…to the ER. One of the recent times was the day before the Cornhuskers were playing their new big rivals, the University of Miami. Some time ago, the Cornhuskers had been Raptured Up to the Big Fooking Ten or what.ev.er, and Elevated Status means New Adversaries, it seems. The docs let him out of the hospital sooner than we’d figured on, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if they’d understood his desperation to get home to watch The Big Game. Well, plus…he’s 97. ;-)
The votes are being tabulated in Catalonia, and it looks as though the two Independence Parties will win a majority of the seats in Parliament. The leaders say they will press on toward independence unilaterally, disregarding Spain’s refusal to allow a referendum.
Oh, hell yeah; the EU Elites have issued all kinds of dire warnings to them. Good on them; I wish them well.
The World Will End Tonight as the Blood Moon Will Go into a Total Eclipse
Tonight will be the fourth appearance of a blood moon over the last two years, in what is known as a tetrad series. The last time was in 1982; the next will be in 2033.
NASA says not to worry; pffffft. John Haggee will make his last broadcast live-streaming the event. Oh, wait; this just in:
“While that row continues, Hagee will spend Sunday hosting a live programme as the blood moon appears.
“Pastor Hagee believes this exceptional celestial alignment is consistent with Biblical prophecy and with God’s unfolding message to humankind,” promotional material for the show said.
Hagee told the Guardian the blood moon means “an event of historical significance to the Jewish people is occurring or will occur”. Asked what the implications are for the end of the world, Hagee said there were “none”.
NASA coverage will be here. Enjoy.