Family, hockey and love…


Her beautiful blue eyes peered through him…she was in awe of his height, his strength, the smattering of freckles across his nose…his eyes a few shades lighter than hers…a familiarity…a feeling of love.

My 96 year-old grandmother doesn’t remember. She doesn’t tell the stories the way she used to. There’s no hanging out a line of clothes while she whistles a familiar tune. She’s not pouring a cup of tea, setting the table, making sure your favourite treats are in the cupboard. Long gone are the days when she laughed a hearty laugh over a favourite game show. The knitting needles, always present, have not been in her hands for years.

I prepared him.

“She doesn’t look the way she looked the last time you saw her,” I explained. “She won’t know you,” I’d said.

“She knows Love,” he replied confidently. “She’ll know I’m there.”

She knew he was there.

She watched him. She smiled. She held his gaze and gripped his hand.


Last weekend, we were visiting St. John’s, Newfoundland, for the Confederation Cup Hockey Tournament…a 23 year tradition where High School Teams fight for the coveted trophy. A tournament that historically saw multiple teams from several provinces…where this year, we were the only “Come From Away” Team.

It was a large weekend. A weekend that started with my grandmother peering lovingly at my son…that continued with multiple family members coming to the rink…and ended with my cousin’s daughter, peering lovingly at my son!

She was in awe of his height, his strength, the smattering of freckles across his nose…his eyes a few shades lighter than hers…a familiarity…a feeling of love.


We filled the stands…Cousins, Aunts, Uncles…all curled beneath blankets and holding warm beverages…cheering loudly. THIRTY-THREE different family members came and went to games throughout the course of four days…many of them watching multiple times.


“You don’t really know a lot of these people who are here to see you,” I’d explained. But they’re here because they love you.”

“I feel it,” he said.

He felt it when they cheered him on. When they baked the team cookies for the ride from the rink. When those who couldn’t come sent messages and well wishes. When those who were there waited to say hello. When they placed babies in his arms, took photos…gave hugs.

He felt it all.

In amongst a number of hockey games where, in the championship game, my son and my cousin’s son squared off against one another as multiple family members cheered on from the sides…I was reminded, once again, what life is all about.

As the game ended…as two boys who barely know each other stood in line to shake hands and instead chose to embrace one another…I was reminded that being surrounded by people who have your best interests at heart…being with family…feeling love…it makes each and everyone of us winners.

In the greatest game of all.


13 Replies to “Family, hockey and love…”

    • Mom gave her a kiss for you while we were there! She really is content…or as Meg said when she saw the pictures, “Nan looks cozy.”

      It was FANTASTIC that Suzanne came out and spent the evening with us…then on to Aunt Betty’s for a bite to eat and hang out for the night. Really wonderful to see her!

  1. Ok-that did it:( Teary and wishing Sean and Em could have met my Nanny! She played a huge role in my life and had spunk! Widowed at 50 she raised four kids and then helped with us as my Mom worked nights as a nurse and my Dad was away in the military. So great for your boy to feel that love and support from everyone in St. John’s!
    The rink & the game are often places where good and surprising things can happen between rivals.
    We were in PEI for the Spud AAA Tournament and played against Fredricton. They were down by several in the last five minutes and I see my 6’2” son chatting with his opposing D boy/man. In Midget that can be not good. As we parents, referees and spectators watched they each took a glove off….and shook hands. Once I got over the shock I was never was I prouder. This is sport and why it is less about the score at the end than the way you play the game.
    Teens get a bad rap sometimes but these two stories I think represent the very good in our young men and what great moms we are:)

    • I agree…this sport as given my son WAY more in lessons than I ever dreamt possible. It’s amazing to watch them grow.

      And…as far as your Nan…they’ve met her…they know her…she’s in everything you do and who you are. xo

  2. Beautiful, Colleen. I am so happy you and Spiderman got to experience such an amazing weekend. Carry that with you!!

  3. Not gonna lie..this got me all verklempt . You should be very proud of your son. He seems to be growing up to be a very well grounded and mature young man..good job! Family is #1. Good job Momma:)

  4. Beautiful story. Brought a tear to my eye in memory of my own grandmother. Glad you got to spend time with your family.

  5. Enjoyed reading this, Colleen!! Tears to my eyes. What a wonderful weekend you all enjoyed. Wish we could have been with you but I know you understand about Uncle Ed’s condition. We missed not seeing you and Noah, but, by the looks of things on the pictures posted, you were not lonely for family. Love you. XXOO

    • I know you’d be there if it hadn’t been a cold, damp rink!! I’m hoping to bring the kids down this summer to have a nice visit…and promise not to spend my time in a cold arena expecting everyone to come to me!! xo to both of you.

  6. A very moving and thought provoking column, Colleen. Thank you for sharing. The pictures were an added bonus. xoxo

  7. Beautiful story of love Colleen. Reminds me of my Nana Clarke from Harbour Grace who moved to Sydney, NS making it accessible for us to visit by train from NY. Write on!