30 years ago, my Mom’s life was ruined. At least that’s what she would snap at me and still does from time to time, when I start screaming at the TV, either in frustration or in excitement. I can’t help it. I am a passionate woman and nothing compares to the emotions I feel when I watch Chicago Bears football*.
It’s funny how these things happen. There was a time, 30 years ago, when I knew nothing about football. My days were full of books and cartoons and hanging out in my own little world. My brother and sister were my companions in the complex yet seemingly carefree journey that is childhood. It was a more innocent time, where days lasted forever in the exaggerated way I used to think when I was young.
In 1986, a day came along which changed my life and I daresay, the life of my whole family. Dad was working. We were watching cartoons per the usual routine. Mom was cooking our meals for the week. Suddenly she walked into the living room where we were blissfully unaware of what was about to happen. We had an old console TV, a large, wooden, cabinet-like monstrosity. We had a VCR too, which must have been hi tech back then, but as I think back to it now, it seems cumbersome and obsolete. Mom grabbed a blank video cassette, hit the button to turn on the VCR, changed the channel despite our loud protestations and hit record. The ensuing discussion went something like this:
“Moooooooom! No! We were watching that! ” we cried.
“Your Dad said you have to watch this. I have to record it. ” I can imagine my mother’s frustration with having to deal with three angry kids and also having to meet Dad’s orders.
I don’t recall much about what we were watching. Some stupid sports game. I remember feeling sullen and bored. The end of the game was somewhat exciting though. Everyone was cheering, the winning team’s players were hoisting a man in a sweater with “Bears” splashed across it in orange letters.
Yes, my friends. The date was January 26, 1986 and we were watching Super Bowl XX. The mighty Chicago Bears trouncing the New England Patriots. And we had no clue what was happening.
I remember later, we had a rally at school in the gym, where all the students from Chippewa and Tioga Schools were all hanging out celebrating. I remember making a hat which consisted of a band of green construction paper on to which I had glued several brown construction paper footballs and had made two flimsy yellow field goal posts, also made of construction paper which I glued on either side of the band and when I put it on, they didn’t look so much like field goal posts, but rather like two yellow antennae, limply hanging above my ears. It was sad. And I’m not just saying that about my feeble attempt at millinery.
Dad didn’t know we knew nothing about football. After this, he spent more time with us, teaching us about football. And while I can’t speak for my siblings (although I am pretty sure the same thing was in their heads), I loved spending time with my Dad, even if it meant sitting on a couch watching him watch football, as he dodged, jerked and shifted as if he was playing on the field and not sitting at home with his kids. He would get angry at the bad calls, excited with the fumbles and touchdowns or be sad when his team was losing. I remember watching and asking questions and slowly but surely, I learned the game and I fell in love with the Bears despite their decline after that one glorious season that I knew was something amazing I didn’t appreciate at the time.
In ensuing years, my fondest memories of my family were when we watched football together. Mom was not a fan of football. Mom was not a fan of the fact that all three of her children, along with her husband were fans either. I remember many a Sunday, where the three of us would be gathered in the living room with Dad, all of us shouting in excitement or yelling at bad calls. Sometimes Mom would demand control of the TV and Dad would sneak off to his room to watch the game and then we would make some excuse or another to go upstairs and watch with him. I’m pretty sure my Mom didn’t like that one bit.
In more recent times, things got quieter. We had work, or school, or friends, or in the case of my brother, his own family so we didn’t watch together as much as we used to. I always made it a point to watch the Super Bowl with Dad, even when I didn’t live at home anymore. We would get some pizza and sit and watch it together.
It is coming up on Super Bowl 50 and alas, the Bears aren’t going to be there. But I’m sharing this Orange Peel in honor their victory, 30 years ago and more importantly, in honor of my Dad’s memory today, on his birthday, and the legacy he left of three kids and three grandkids who all watch Chicago Bears football**. It is the simple things like watching a game with my brother or my sister or just texting each other during the game, that makes me appreciate what we got from Dad as we grew up. More than the love for football for sure. But when I watch the Bears or when I watch the Super Bowl, I know my Dad would be happy that football makes me think of him and smile.
*The Chicago Cubs get me equally excited. Maybe a little more…
**I don’t think my three nieces know much about football right now but they wear the Bears outfits happily, and I know my brother will make sure they they are raised right, to be loyal and devoted Bears fans.