I watched the Super Bowl in a Nursing Home. Pizza with all the toppings in one hand, a bottle of Coke in the other, I walked into my Dad's room, TV blaring pre-game chatter. Having had surgery just days earlier, the meal was probably not what his Doctor would order, but it was what "The Doctor" ordered on this Super Bowl Sunday. Both of us huge New York Giants fans, it was he who gave to me my love of sports, and yes, my love for the Giants.
Planted in his black wheelchair with silvery spokes, seated to the right of his bed and facing the TV, that chair his home on wheels now that he will never walk again. Dad smiles when he sees me, a little extra sparkle in his eyes when he sees the big white box and liquid refreshment, all the while the thought of his beloved Giants in the Super Bowl dancing behind those eyes.
I open the pizza box, and take out a slice, placing it gently on one of the paper plates that came with the pizza. It is still a few minutes before kickoff, and Dad slides the front corner of the slice onto his eagerly awaiting taste buds. The cheese keeps a stretched link between him and the slice as his hands pull the piece towards his plate. I hope he chews the cheese well. When did the child become the parent?
We have shared many moments watching the Giants together, but this game is more special than the others. He is not well, and this Giants roll has been a great release from the suffering for both of us. That is one of the secrets of sports, and that is why we enjoy them so much. A 3-hour vacation from what can be harsh reality, to a place where we can scream, root and carry on without worry...without fear.
We both happily chew on our pizza, Dad then taking a slow sip of bubbling Coke from his plastic cup, the brown liquid chasing down the sauce and pie crust. Not unlike younger days when we suffered together through awful Giants teams. Then, Lawrence Taylor, Bill Parcells, Phil Simms and company slowly brought the team and its fans toward the light. Playoff losses to the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers, then the Chicago Bears. 1986 brought the Giants their first Super Bowl, and us as fans a long-awaited reward for our loyalty. 1990 would bring another.
Dad looks at the pie with interest. I get up and pull out a second piece for him, and without a word he goes to work on it with energy. A good sign. His appetite is good today.
Who knows if this will be the last time me and Dad share a Giants Super Bowl together, although I hope the answer to that question has more to do with the mental and physical health of Eli Manning than my Dad.
Kickoff is here, and so are we. A story that has been played out throughout the years, all over the world. Parent and child, the joy of sports, rooting...sharing. It's going to be a great vacation.
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