but I am a Lion’s fan. For my entire life I’ve loved those Deeeetroit Lions. In their good years (few), their great years (far between) and their bad years (all the rest). But I wasn’t born a Lions fan. I wasn’t raised in a house decorated in that pretty shade of blue. I am a Lions fan because of Uncle Phil.
Every year we’d make the drive from Rochester to a small town a few hours away. We’d get up early and load up the zucchini breads and cookies. We’d drive off in a station wagon filled with a cloud of Chanel No 5, Mom’s special event perfume. We’d arrive and go up the side steps, past my Uncle’s office, and into a kitchen full of bustling women and plenty of chatter. My Aunt was a bundle of energy, only 4′ 9″, the Mother of seven, a nurse who ran my Uncle’s practice and ran her house both at the same time. She’s hug us, comment on my height, and push us off into the dining room and sitting room. I’d be sent up the stairs with a pile of coats on my arm and directions to go into the first door on my left and place them on the bed. My cousins would call out to me as I went past. All but one would usually return for Thanksgiving. I was the youngest by two years and that was my brother. Next was a boy cousin 5 years older than me. So I’d go back down stairs and into the kitchen. We’d eat and then it began, an afternoon of football. I’d camp out in the sitting room once the tables were cleared and dishes all done. I’d listen to the “men” talk about work and trains and whatever men talk about and I’d listen to my Uncle talk about how much he hated the Detroit Lions.
Soooo…. I am a Lions fan. Thanks to Uncle Phil for that. I’d cheer and whoop and carry on whenever we scored or gained a first down. I’d groan when we got on the wrong side of the foul. And one by one my cousins would wander off, my Dad would doze off, and I’d watch football with Uncle Phil. My Uncle was my Dad’s brother. He was a stern man, a disciplined Father, and a man not given to warm and fuzzy moments. But during the football games he was different, kinder and for me a man I truly respected. He was a small town doctor. He was a devout Methodist. He was a good man. You just had to get past his surface to see it and the only time I saw it was during those football games.
My Uncle passed away a bit after my Dad did. He had been here near us, we visited him a few times whilehe was still open to visits. He had Alzheimers. One of the last times I saw him, when his memory was still working a bit, we visited him and his cat in the facility he was in, we talked of all those Thanksgivings and how much the car ride had changed. And I mentioned my beloved Lions and on cue he went off into a tirade about those horrible Lions. And we smiled. He lived a lot longer but he lived inside his head. When he passed it was a blessing for him, and I know my Dad and Aunt were up there waiting for him and tomorrow when I face my first Thanksgiving with no parents, I won’t just think of them but also of Uncle Phil who gave me my love of football and my Lions.
Happy Thanksgiving, I hope everyone who reads this can think o one blessing to count because if you can count one then you are indeed blessed. Be safe on the roads.