Ever been in the middle of something and think of something else completely unrelated? Today, I thought about my brother and my dad while I enjoyed my version of “College Game Day.” My version kept the noise of a game in the background most of the day as some other activity served as my primary focus until Alabama’s game started. Alabama football absorbed my brother’s attention during spring ball and every week they played. I counted on him to update me on the new signees, the depth chart for the upcoming season, and the go. Now, as I watch Alabama play, I think of my brother and I chuckle because I miss him texting me throughout the games and calling me at halftime or after the game to debrief.
My siblings and I grew up watching sports and attending sporting events with daddy. Daddy played baseball in college, but he loved other sports too. After he graduated from college, he spent some time coaching high school basketball, football, and track and field. I enjoyed watching games with daddy in person and on television. Initially, it just meant that we were hanging out together. It was also very likely that I was having fun too because daddy was a funny man and it was often a good time whenever he was around. My thoughts about daddy started, not because he used to be a coach, but because he loved technology.
Daddy loved technology and he loved being the first one to have the latest gadget. I think he loved that moment when he realized that he was first to tell someone about a new gadget. Daddy was an amateur radio operator who loved all things ham radio. He shopped for the latest equipment in catalogs and at ham radio equipment fairs. He anticipated travel to these fairs like my mother looked forward to trips to the mall. He was the only one who enjoyed looking at equipment for an entire weekend. I went along because I had to go. I was too young to stay home alone all weekend. My mother went along because she had become friends with the wives of my dad’s ham radio friends. The women spent their time enjoying each others company. They shopped at the two or three vendor booths that didn’t have radio equipment, but sold other odd items for people like us who were not drawn to radios, radio parts, or radio accessories, or talk about either of those things. I often wondered why mama didn’t take the car keys and disappear from what daddy and his friends called a “ham fest.” It didn’t resemble any festival I ever attended or wanted to attend.
Whenever we watched a game with daddy, he coached from the stands and took time to teach me about whatever we were watching. If we watched on television, he talked to the players and coaches from his special chair. Like our attendance at the events, we were a captive audience for him in the den at our house and he espoused his sports genius on us and anyone else who happened to be present. Daddy was to the coaches what a backseat driver is to the driver behind the wheel of the car. He was sometimes loud and always confident that his opinions and expertise would make the teams more successful. It was entertaining to watch him work to get the attention of the coaches who he believed could benefit from his recommendations. If the coaches wouldn’t stop what they were doing to listen to him, he would work to get the attention of one of the players. I guess the coach in him didn’t stop coaching even when he reportedly hung up his whistle.
Daddy passed about twenty years ago. After he died, my brother and I used to talk about how weird it was to say, “remember when daddy used to say” this or that? We recalled daddy ism’s for the fun times, the frustrating times, and the challenging times. My brother said that his band students had a section in their band notebooks of “Things My Daddy Used To Say.” I wish one of his band students would share that section of the notebook with me now that my brother is gone and I can’t count on him for the quotes. We could only imagine what Daddy would have thought about the progression of computers and cell phones. We were certain that he would have sucked all of the life out his batteries if he could have owned a car with an outlet inside of it. I am sure he would have found a way to have his voice installed on his phone to answer questions and give directions whenever he needed help or used the app for maps.
I started this post intending to write about the “smooth” young quarterback for Alabama who listens to Frankie Beverly and Maze, The Isley Brothers, and Al Green while he cleans his apartment. Alabama football made me think of my family because we watched a lot of games together over the years. I also thought of my father because good music was always a part of any discussion with him. Al Green songs and stories were common as were songs by blues artist like B.B. King and Z.Z. Hill. Daddy would often say, “That’s a ba’ad tune!” I loved it when the “ba’ad tune” was on the radio or playing on his 8-track tape player and he would hold out his hand inviting me to join him on the always ready made dance floor.
Whenever something makes you remember someone or something you love a lot, take the time to enjoy the thoughts. Give yourself permission to digress and be grateful for the special memories.