Friday Night Lights In Small Town, America

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My son telephoned on Sunday or Monday and invited his mother and me down for the weekend. He said, “The kids are out of school on Friday. Why don’t you come on Thursday and stay until after William’s football game on Saturday afternoon? We’ll start the day Saturday morning by going to Jake’s football game”. I was pleased to have the invitation, but a little reluctant to make the commitment. Saturdays are full days for me and I generally need to devote time to getting ready for Sunday. Honestly, Saturdays are always packed full. Did I really want to be at a football game in Katy on Saturday afternoon? In case you’re wondering, Katy is a stone’s throw from Houston.

 

I checked my work calendar on Monday and saw that I had a work commitment for Thursday evening. Consequently, going to Craig’s on Thursday after work wasn’t going to be a possibility. I also had a conference call scheduled for Friday morning. Since we were out of town this past weekend, the thought of staying close to home this weekend didn’t seem like a half bad idea. Actually, it seemed like something the doctor ordered.  I was tired.

 

On Tuesday William called. “Guess what Granddad?” were the first words out of his mouth. Under the best of circumstances, I didn’t know where to start. I had no idea how to respond. I threw the question back at William. How should I answer your question? Instead of framing a question for me, he excitedly announced: “I am the starting quarterback for Saturday’s game”. I applauded William’s news with congratulations! Truth be known, I don’t know a quarterback from a halfback or a fullback or a linebacker, but I do know that the center is the guy in the middle that hikes the ball. Doesn’t the quarterback say, “One, two, three – hike?” At least I’ve heard that somewhere.

 

Rather than make a commitment to William that we’d be at the game, I said simply, “We’ll have to see.” After I got off the telephone, Treva suggested that we really needed to be present for William’s game. After all, he had never played quarterback before. She explained to me that William is really good at passing the football and that he takes the game seriously. How she knew any of that, I don’t know apart from the fact that she generally knows everything.

 

She even knows how to nudge me into making a commitment I half-heartedly didn’t want to make. Of course, I wanted to see my grandkids play football, but I also wanted to do nothing. She’s been retired so long that she’s forgotten that a regular work schedule can leave one needing down time. I guess I could say she “kicked a field goal” before our conversation ended. She looked at me and said, “I thought you were the king of adventure. How can you say that you don’t want to go?” Okay, I was hooked. The die was cast. We were going.

 

Craig called again on Wednesday night. He excitedly said, “I hope you and Mom are coming because all of us are going to Somerville on Friday night to watch Garrett play football. This is his senior year. Craig and Garrett’s dad, John, have been close friends since their beginning days at Texas A&M. As luck would have it, John and Amanda were subsequently stationed at Camp Pendleton shortly after Craig and Becky were stationed there. Their house was directly across the cul-de-sac from where Craig and Becky lived. As I vividly recall, the housing was twenty-plus miles from the entrance to Camp Pendleton. The two couples have remained closest of friends throughout military careers, multiple deployments and integration back into civilian life. Both now live in easy commuting distance to Texas A&M. Craig would say, “It was meant to be. Once an Aggie, always an Aggie.” Of course, the same could be said of “Semper Fi’”. Those connections and life experiences are etched in stone and they are unfaltering.

 

Treva and I think of John and Amanda as extended family. They are great kids and they have great kids. Garrett is a senior and Gracen is a freshman at Brazos Christian School in Bryan. Garrett plays football and Gracen is a cheerleader.

 

We arrived at Craig’s around 3:30 yesterday. The kids were eagerly awaiting our arrival. In short order, Jenny was playing the Aggie War Hymn on her flute. William was showing us his trombone and pelting out a few notes. The dogs were barking and Jake wanted to help me with my blog. Finally, he said, “Granddad, can I just write my own blog?” I said, “Yes” and provided him a blank template. He had only composed a sentence on his own before his mom got home. Consequently, he stopped to talk with her. I looked to see what he had written. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to put a smile on my face: “9/24/16   I was at my house and I was patiently waiting for my grandma & grandpa aka the king of adventure.”

Friday Night Lights in Somerville proved to be more than I envisioned. It was fun to watch the game and fun to watch the crowd. It really was an adventure.  I had a flashback to watching Craig play football in high school. I quickly calculated in my head that last night’s football game was the first high school game that we’ve seen since Craig was in high school. I turned to him and asked: “Do you realize that it has been twenty-seven years since you played football?” He seemed shocked with the realization. The years really do go by quickly.

 

I was impressed with Garrett’s sport’s ability. He was all over the field and he was effective. If I’m not mistaken, he was credited with making eleven tackles last night. I told him after the game that he was impressive. I watched him knock players down and I watched as he extended a hand to lift them back up. He simply smiled.

 

In addition, Gracen is also delightful and very effective as a cheerleader. I know that John and Amanda have to be very proud of both children. They are a credit to their parenting skill and their commitment to equipping their children to live in a grown-up world as responsible young adults.

 

I also learned something about Craig that I didn’t know. In fact, Becky didn’t know it either. She was shocked. She said, “We’ve been married over twenty years and I had no idea he could still play the trombone. When William got his trombone, Craig put it together, picked it up and starting playing the Aggie War Hymn.

 

Craig was in the sixth grade when he started playing in the Johnson City school band. He played through his senior year even though he also played football through his schooling experience as well. The football players who were in the band, simply marched and played during half-time wearing their football uniforms.

 

The way I see it, I’ve got one down and two to go. If today’s games are as enjoyable as the time I had last night, it will be a great day.

 

All My Best!

Don

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