Saturday, February 9, 2013

More Than a Trophy

Maybe I’m getting too sentimental in my “old” age, but this year’s Super Bowl turned into a bit of a “Cry Bowl” for me.

The announcer begins with an introduction of Sandy Hook’s elementary chorus. The camera pans the group as they sing a few bars, and naturally, the tears well up in my eyes. That wound is still so fresh. The sight of those children – excited and smiling – well it was a poignant example of our country’s resilience.

It was enough to make this Super Bowl partier cry.

As the game moved ahead, the media did their part to accentuate the competitive dual between brothers. 

The fact that the head coach of each team grew up together with Mom probably frequently scolding, “Don’t throw that ball in the house!” made it a little tough to root against either one of them. When a videographer zooms into Mom and Dad seated in the arena a rush of emotions overwhelms me.

These are their boys!

I’ve got boys. I know the competitiveness that can rip them apart and the unshakeable love that brings them back together.

Both teams can’t win. One of their boys will be undeniably crushed after that game. As I stared at Mom Harbaugh, I couldn’t help but think of all the times I’ve had to console a child who, despite all their hard work, didn’t achieve their goal.

In a Huffington Post article about the parents’ role in their sons’ pinnacle game, Dad Harbaugh admitted they got a taste after a Niners loss at Baltimore on Thanksgiving.

Here’s an excerpt from that article describing the parents’ post-game experience:

After leaving an office in the stadium where they watched the game — in private and emotionless — the first locker room they walked past was that of the Ravens.

"We've all experienced that excitement of victory-guys jumping up and down, the smile on John's face. They were just ecstatic. ... Then you realize that you're not needed here," Jack said. "You walk across the hall, and you went into the 49ers locker room and you walked and you saw the players walking about — that look in their eyes, that look of not being successful and coming up short. We opened up a couple doors and finally saw Jim all by himself in this room, just a table and a chair. He was still in his coaching outfit. His head down in his hands and you looked into his eyes and you realized that this where you're needed as a parent.”

"Where you're needed." Ugh.

It was enough to make this Mom cry.

If the game itself wasn’t turning me into a blubbering pool of tears, a few well-placed commercials certainly would.

Enter a two-minute Jeep ad honoring returning servicemen and women. 

Come on, now. Pass me the tissues...AGAIN.

Family meals… a dog waiting to be walked… a lonely wife. And suddenly a framed portrait of a soldier comes into focus. 

“You’ve been missed,” Oprah says.   

Throw in some heart-wrenching music and you know what you get.

It was enough to make this American cry.

Surely this would be the end of all my gushing. I was running low on tissues, for heaven’s sake.

But nope. The big daddy of them all was still on the horizon, unbeknownst to me.

The late Paul Harvey’s hypnotic voice grabs me. “And on the 8th day…”


God said, "I need somebody strong enough to clear trees, heave bails and yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink combed pullets...and who will stop his mower for an hour to mend the broken leg of a meadow lark. So, God made a farmer!

It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight...and not cut corners. Somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed...and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody to replenish the self-feeder and then finish a hard days’ work with a five mile drive to church. Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who'd laugh and then sigh...and then respond with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life "doing what dad does". So, God made a farmer!

It was enough to make this Farm Girl cry.

So I’d just like to offer my congratulations to the people who made this year’s Super Bowl a memorable one. Honestly, not even a week later and I don’t recall the score of the game. I don’t remember which call was unjustified and which player took the hardest hit.

What I vividly remember is how the world saw those few hours as an opportunity to grab my heartstrings and tug.


But when you’re simultaneously reminded of what it means to be a caring citizen, a comforting Mom, a proud American, and the humble daughter of a farmer – that’s worth far more celebration than a tall, shiny trophy any day.

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