As a parent of small children and a daughter who has lost a parent, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our children don’t often get to see us doing the things in life that bring us the most joy. Sometimes these are things we used to do that we don’t do anymore, or things we do during our time away from our kids, instead of our time with them.
My dad loved football. And he was good at it–or so I’m told. With the exception of one alumni game that ended early because someone got hurt, I never actually saw my dad play football. Legend has it that he still holds the Philadelphia high school record for longest touchdown–101 yards from end zone to end zone–for a play he made in the 1960’s. (The criteria for this record has since changed, so ironically he will always hold this record.) Football was one of the reasons that he–a blue-collar kid from Philly–earned a scholarship to Williams College, an event that very likely changed the trajectory of our family’s story.
My dad’s favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles, played in the Super Bowl on February 6th, 2005. He was excited leading up to the big game, but when the day came he was too sick to watch. Maybe it was for the better, because the Eagles lost to the Patriots that year, and my dad died three days later. Now here we are, another February 9th (they seem to come more quickly each year) and the Eagles are in the Super Bowl again. I’m wishing for better luck for the Eagles this year. But mostly I’m wishing that we all find ways to share the things that make us feel the most alive with the people we love the most–while we’re still able to.
(My dad, John Gallagher, after a Williams football game, pictured here between my mom and my grandmother–both still alive and routing for the Eagles.)