My day break wandering led me to the Syracuse University Hill at 6am this morning. The only people roaming the streets at this hour are police officers, doctors, and nurses. If you read my Happy Memories article from a couple weeks ago, you will remember how we can often associate places and objects with memories from our past. I associate Syracuse University with my dad.
The student body as well as the entire community “bleeds orange” for it’s fanatical support of the schools basketball time, but there was a time where, in my opinion, the spirit of the football team was just a strong.
My dad and I were part of the dedicated fan base. Not missing a game for a good 7 or 8 years from the mid 90s to the early 2000s. We would make our way up the steep hill. Past the Sheraton Hotel ( I always thought the “S” on the side of the building stood for Syracuse), tip the man playing the guitar and dancing (still plays there), enter gate M of the Carrier Dome, and find our perfect seats just off the 50 yard line.
I know I said “M” but this was a better shot…I thought.
We had three seats so we would usually have company whether it be my great uncle Gerald, my Mom, or one of my Dad’s Buddies. But it was my Dad that always made it a memorable experience.
I don’t think there was a louder spectator in the sea of 50,000 plus fans, (yes, there was a time where that many people went to see these games) his voice so strained that he could barely talk for two days after. I know in my early years I drove him nuts, more worried about what was on the score board or what the mascots we’re doing. But as I got older and began playing football myself, we really grew to enjoy the experience together. I still remember him pulling me early from Saturday practice so we could make the 12pm kickoff time.
I think he appreciated the time away from his hectic life to just be himself. He embodied the idea of work ethic and given his upbringing, he was adopted and lost his dad at 3 years old, and his military background. He was very strict and firm with everyone he encountered, including me. It wasn’t until I became a man that I grew to fully understand what drove him.
As we got older and our lives got more complicated, we stopped going to the games. My dad’s work schedule got crazy, Syracuse’s team quality diminished, and finally when he and my mom split we all found ourselves with very different lives.
My relationship with my dad is certainly very different than it was in those days. Even though we don’t see each other as much as we like, I know I can pick up the phone as talk to him man to man. I consider him a friend. I am who I am largely in part of his influence.
“26 years in the deepest darkest jungle, and I still became my father.” Robin Williams, Jumanji.
Thanks for the memories o’le man. Wouldn’t trade them for anything.
I try at every opportunity to create similar bonds with my boys.