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.