Heart attacks in football

There’s no crying in baseball – that’s what Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan told one of the Rockford Peaches in a “League of Their Own.”

I don’t know that there’s crying in any sport unless there’s an injury, but football seems to bring about the most angst.

At least growing up in my house it did.

My grandfather was a die-hard Georgia fan and by die-hard, I mean that man nearly died at a dang Georgia game.

Granny and I had dropped him and my uncle Bobby off at the game and commenced to spend the afternoon in Athens, shopping at the shoe store and Rose’s, and the old gal even took me to lunch.

It was a big, big day for us and she was in a fairly good mood.

Until we went to pick up Pop and Bobby.

My uncle was helping my grandfather, who was hobbling, towards the car.

“What is wrong?” my grandmother demanded.

My uncle shook his head at her. He has always been the one who tried to make all these hot-tempered people he was surrounded by calm down; walking on water would probably be easier.

“Robert! What is wrong with you?” Granny’s reaction for anything was increasing her verbal volume. I am sure someone named Robert in South Carolina heard her.

“Mama, he got so upset when Georgia lost, I think he choked on his hot dog and it went down the wrong way. Just let him get easy, I think it’s stuck in his windpipe.”

Granny didn’t have a lot of sympathy for anyone. She looked at my grandfather’s ashen face and said, “I can’t believe you ‘bout choked to death on a dang hot dog because Georgia lost. It’s a game, Bob. A game. And what are you doing eat a hot dog? I thought the doctor told you to lay off them things.”

Granny continued her tirade all the way home as I sat in the backseat bouncing with my red and black paper pom-poms they always faithfully got me. There was no way my chubby and uncoordinated self would ever be a cheer leader, but they still gave me hope with those paper poms.

But Pop didn’t choke on a hot dog.

Pop had a heart attack.

A pretty massive heart attack.

But, he was also so stubborn he refused to go to the hospital until my Mama got home from work that night around midnight, stating firmly he was not leaving until he knew she was safe.

“You are as stubborn as a mule,” Granny said to him. Remember – she lacked sympathy at times.

“You need to get to the hospital before you die.”
“I ain’t gonna die,” he said. “I still got to get some roofs done before Christmas.”

Pop didn’t get those roofs done. He spent about a week in the hospital before he came home and when his doctor finally released him, he had stern orders: no more Georgia games.

My uncle called and cancelled their annual tickets for the next season before Pop got home.

“I haven’t smoked in years, I quit drinking decades ago and now this? No more football? What’s left for me to live for?” my grandfather wanted to know.

“Me?” I asked, sheepishly. “Granny? Mama? Bobby? Aren’t we more important than a football game?”

The thought of just having us did not comfort him. Heck, it may have made him feel worse – we’re a curious bunch of folks.

But he had been forbidden to darken Sanford stadium ever again. Doctors orders.

“Was it because it was Tech?” I whispered to my uncle.

He nodded. “That rivalry always gets him riled up. But he would have gotten pretty upset if it had been another team he hated.”

I was fascinated.

How can you hate a football team, especially when you don’t even know the people?
It was a bunch of grown men wearing tight britches while running after a ball. My son would later declare at the ripe old age of 5 that those people did not know how to share and say it was a pointless game.

“Like who?”

“Well, he doesn’t seem to mind Alabama. If anything, he seems to respect them. He mainly hates Tech when they play UGA; the rest of the time, he will pull for Tech because they are a state team.

“Florida is a big one. He is not a Florida fan. But maybe after Tech, his next big one is Auburn. He is not an Auburn fan at all.”

“Why?” I asked.

My uncle shrugged.
“Why does anyone get all worked up about a football game? It’s just something we like to do.”

My grandfather never went to another live football game again, but I saw him having grown up big man hissy fits over games in the den. The kind of fits that made the house shake and scared the cat.

And in case you didn’t know, the top ranked Georgia fell to Auburn this Saturday.

I was on the edge of my seat during the game – a game, mind you, I don’t really care about.

I may have even had a grown up big girl hissy fit, complete with the loud swearing. I did scare the pittie though, but she’s scared of her own shadow.

“Mama, are you OK?” Cole asked.

I nodded.

“You don’t look like it.”

I was fine.

But somewhere, outside of Athens, I am sure my grandfather was rolling over in his grave.


You can’t go home again (12/3/2014)

Dear old Thomas Wolfe may have been right when he wrote, “You can’t go home again” back in the 1940s.

Or maybe he just lived in an area much like the one I grew up near, that had gone from a charming, eclectic college town to a bustling metropolitan city with new roads and different exits.

OK, maybe saying Athens is a bustling metro area is pushing it, but when your biggest traffic jam involves a cow and some bossy strutting chickens, anything with more than two lanes seems metropolitan. It’s just a lot different than what I have been acclimated to the last several years.

“Do you know where this is?” Lamar will ask me anytime we are homeward bound to see Mama.

“Of course I do,” is my reply.

He will pause and study me for a moment.

“Do you know how to get there?”

“I just said I did.”

“No, you said you know where it is. Where it is and how to get there are two different things.”

Said the man who thinks Mapquest is out to get him lost on purpose.

This conversation arose Thanksgiving morning as we were preparing to go to Mama’s. I wasn’t quite sure how to get to the place to pick up the dinner and was trying to figure it out.

But, I wasn’t going to tell Lamar that. Surely I could figure it out.

Just in case, I called and got directions. But what the woman told me confused the dressing out of me.

“I take Timothy Road?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “To Epps Bridge.”

“Is this down there near St. Mary’s and where the old Trump’s used to be?” One of my proms was at Trump’s. Or was it a debutante ball? I couldn’t remember – it was getting as foggy as me remembering where roads were.

“I don’t know about that,” the lady said.

“I turn between the Taco Bell and the liquor store, right? Like I am heading to the old dollar movie theater?”

The lady sighed. “I am going to tell you one more time,” she had already told me twice. “You turn right on Timothy Road, at the light at Publix.”

We left early and were making good time. I felt about 99.99 percent sure I could get us to our destination without any complications or without letting on that I was not real sure where we were going.

And we did. We got there just fine. It was when I decided to take navigation into my own hands.

“I think if we turn out of the parking lot and keep going, we will hit a road near Mama’s and will get there quicker.”

Lamar eyed me. He was getting hungry and wasn’t entirely sure he believed me. “You know how to get there from here?”

I nodded.

More of the stankeye look. “How come a few minutes ago, you were all ‘Oh, I have never seen this before,’ and “this wasn’t here?”

“Well, I am pretty sure this will take us into Oconee County and I can find Mama’s road. It will save us about 20 minutes.”

Lamar knew how famous I was for my shortcuts. Once, when I was taking Cole to see Mama, I took a ‘shortcut.’ Two hours later and a trip through Gwinnett County and a few drive-thru’s, my little fried chickentarian and I finally arrived.

“You know what’s the quickest way somewhere?” Lamar asked.

“A straight line?”

“Nope, the one you know.”

But, it was Thanksgiving and he didn’t want to fuss, so he turned right out of that parking lot and away we went.

And lost we got.

“Where are we?” he asked.

I wasn’t sure. Why did we just cross into Barrow County? That was on the other side…

“You don’t know do you?”

“I think if we go a little bit further…”

Lamar shook his head. “No, we are turning around. We could have been there by now.” And eating turkey. I was hungry, too. Why did he put the food in the trunk? How am I supposed to eat a bite if it’s in the trunk?

We turned around and came up on another road pointing towards Bogart. “You know Bogart, don’t you?”

I said I did, but apparently, I don’t.

It hadn’t changed much but I didn’t remember anything. We came to the red light – probably still the only red light in Bogart. I didn’t know which way to turn. Lamar went right and pulled into a gas station to ask directions.

Yes, that’s right – a man stopped to ask directions. You make those gender sacrifices when you are married to me.

Thankfully, the man he asked was able to tell us which way to go and a few moments later, we were at that Pepsi plant, turning onto 78.

Mama was worried. I had told her we would be there in 15 minutes; that was 30 minutes before. “We are so lost, so lost,” I texted back.

When we finally arrived, Mama wanted to know how in the world we got so turned around. Or, more specifically, how does one get lost in Bogart?

“I don’t even know how I ended up in Bogart,” I said. “We were on one side of Athens, over there going towards downtown and I ended up in Bogart – how did that even happen?”

“Did you go over a bridge?” Mama asked. “Or cross 78 and not realize it?”

“No, Mama, I didn’t do any of that. There was stuff I have never seen, there’s stores, roads even – they have moved roads. I don’t remember Timothy or Epps Bridge being there. They have just moved the roads.” I was so confused my brain hurt. And I sorely wished I had gotten that chocolate pecan pie after all.

“Well, you know what I think happened?” Mama began, patting my shoulder. “You just don’t come home enough to know what’s changed and what hasn’t. If you came home more, you wouldn’t be so lost.”

And maybe she meant that in more ways than one.