Saturday, January 02, 2016

Of Time, and the Magic Christmas Football

A morality tale for the first days of this New Year

I took my walk earlier today. As I looked across the wide field of Frontier Park where I begin my circuit, I was reminded of a thought I had the day before, on New Year’s Day, as I watched a man throwing the Frisbee with his grandchildren and dog. It wouldn’t have fit thematically with last night’s post, but luckily for us, this is another post, another day.
Frontier Park in north Colorado Springs is a well-loved piece of land, hosting girl’s soccer and community baseball, and sometimes Pee-Wee football. I wonder how many fathers and sons have thrown footballs here. For added poignancy, there is an elementary school behind me where my now-adult son attended fourth and fifth grades. Yeah, all of sudden in becomes very clear to me why it’s so hard for me to leave—and why it’s all the more imperative that I do.

I remembered that it was this time last year my then-18-year-old son and I were making the most of his 2014 Christmas gift, a Wilson NFL-regulation football. We called it the Magic Christmas Football, because it seemed to fly so easily from our hands, and was so effortless to catch.

I was always flattered that my son would ask me to throw the ball with him, whether it was a baseball or football. I was flattered even more that he still wanted to do it even as his career as a high school football player was over. Bless his warrior’s heart, he’s remained slim and fit since leaving those four years of almost non-stop physical training. That he tolerated my corpulence huffing and puffing along should be grounds for canonization. 

It was difficult for me, especially as I was 20 lbs heavier than I am now, but I had a firm rule I broke maybe twice over the years, and that’s when the son wants to throw ball, I put down what I’m doing and throw the ball. It’s a privilege not many men are afforded. I’m proud to say we spent more than a few evenings, as the sun set behind the Front Range, throwing either a baseball or a football. We did this all the way through his senior year of high school. Of course, we could have done more, but we did what we did, and in the end, that was all.

This was once a football. There are many
footballs like it, but this one was ours
I’m trying to remember the last time I threw the football with my son. I’m thinking it was right after he graduated high school in May. It was warm, the bugs were biting. I think one of his friends showed up at the park to take over for me, and that was the last time I threw the football with my son.

My son still takes the Magic Christmas Football to his Civil Air Patrol physical training nights. It’s spent some time bouncing off the asphalt in the street outside my son’s friend’s house, which is probably why it no longer holds air. My son carries an air pump with him to keep the football going for one more session of throwing spirals and catching on the run. 

If I’d known in time, I’d have gotten him a new one for this Christmas, because this particular Magic Christmas Football has been loved to death. To think I entertained the vain and stupid notion that this might be passed down to my grandson. They don’t make stuff to last anymore.

Run it all the way into the end zone.
A metaphor for life, or something. 
The point is, we started 2015 throwing a football, but my son graduated high school, and, in short order, got his driver’s license, got a job, got a girlfriend, got a life. Life as it should be, in a tight, existential nutshell. The year ended with him driving my Jeep to work, then stopping off to visit at his girlfriend’s for a New Year’s Eve party.

Maybe it’s time I moved on, too.

I added another page to my novel today. I have another two I’d like to finish before bed tonight. I’ve done my 100 push-ups for the day. I didn’t get as many jumping jacks in, but I did take my walk.

As always, I’ll pick up where I left off tomorrow. I still have no idea where I will be at the end of this year. Only that I can’t stay here.