(Editor’s note: Some readers of an earlier version of this post may have come away with the impression that I attended Syracuse. I did not and would not.)
It was excruciating. When that Villanova guy hit the three-pointer to beat my Heels in the national championship game, I was – you guessed it – pretty devastated.
I was angry about the refereeing. (When did the NCAA hire notoriously clueless WCW refs Tommy Young, Teddy Long and Earl Hebner – how else to explain the obvious foul on Justin Jackson at the end of the first half on the ‘block’ they never replayed? I’m not sure JJ wasn’t hit with an international object or a steel chair.) I was angry about our failure to guard the most dangerous outside shooter on the Villanova team. I was angry about our foul shooting.
I stayed angry about a day. Then I got over it. Because of my old friend Andy Jasner’s post on Facebook
Andy and I knew each other from our days at the newspaper in Gastonia, the Hellmouth of Weird. Andy was a sports reporter, the son of a famous Philadelphia sports reporter, Phil Jasner, and grew up near Philly. And this is important to this tale.
I’d actually been a fan of Phil’s even before I met Andy – in those days before the internet (it still pains me not to capitalize internet), his work was syndicated and accessible to those of us who lived outside Philly.
Anyway, Andy and I became friends even before I moved over to sports (and technically became his boss). He was a Syracuse grad, though, and we went back and forth on the Orange and UNC – always good-natured, though. In fact, it was actually refreshing to have non-Wolfpack fans on the sports staff.
So I knew Andy would have been cheering for Villanova in the finals. His Philly love notwithstanding, he would have been angry at the Heels for stomping – there, I said it – Syracuse three times this season, including in the national semifinals.
The day after the game, I mostly stayed off the internet in general and Facebook in particular. But at some point during the day, probably during lunch, I checked out my feed, and I saw the following post from Andy:
So much of life is about memories. I remember 1985 like it was yesterday watching the Villanova game with my dad. Last night, I sat with Jordana (his daughter) and we watched the whole game together. Sacrificing one night’s sleep will now give us another memory forever. This is making me well up now. Great game. Great memories.
Frankly, it made me well up, too. And I lost the anger I’d felt since that fateful shot went in. If you know me well at all, you know I have great trouble letting things go. As in, I NEVER let things go. But this time I could. And I did. (I’m ashamed that it took me this long to write this.)
I reflected that day (and later) about just how right Andy was. As the great songwriter Townes Van Zandt says in To Live is to Fly, ‘Everything is not enough; And nothing is too much to bear; Where you’ve been is good and gone; All you keep’s the getting there.’
Which to me says this: Take care of the moments. One of the great things about being a grandparent is that I have the time and energy to enjoy and cherish the moments I spend with Sam. I had another one yesterday.
I was going outside to light the grill to cook some chicken (turned out excellent, if I say so myself). Sam wasn’t crazy about the idea. ‘Play with me first, Pop!’ he begged. We play with cars, build Legos and work with flash cards regularly on Sundays, and he didn’t like his time getting interrupted.
We compromised – he came outside with me and blew some bubbles, drew with chalk and played with cars. He stayed a comfortable distance from the grill, and Austin and Grace came out and spent some time with us, too.
‘Play with me first, Pop’ is one of those great moments, though. It was private as heck (until now), but I thought I’d share it. Andy’s moments separately with his Dad and Jordana certainly lifted my spirits on what was a ridiculously dark day.
My mantra is a simple one. Look for those moments. Live for those moments.