The Season of Football Memories
Posted by Marlene Delaney
My late husband, Tom, loved football. While Tom liked baseball―he was a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan―by August, the Cubs were almost always non-contenders, so it was time for the football season to begin. He really loved the Bears. In fact, according to him, the biggest fight in our marriage related to me cheering for the Packers and him cheering for the Bears. After that fight, I realized I loved him more than the Packers, so I became a Bears fan, too. And even though Tom has been dead for over five years, I still root for the Bears―much to the dismay of my Packer fan family.
We were season ticket holders and when we weren't at the games, we watched them on TV. I should clarify that Tom and I didn't go to the games together very often since we only had three season tickets and we were a family of four. So he would usually take one of our children and a friend of theirs to the games. Our thoughts were that the kids would soon be off to college so we could go to the games together, but then Tom died at an early age so unfortunately that didn't work out for us.
We didn't really watch the games together at home either. Tom and our son yelled so much that our daughter and I―and our dog who was petrified of all the yelling―watched the games in another room. But we would celebrate the victories with high fives and more yelling. Now when I think about it, we must have looked a little crazy. And we all knew to keep our distance from Tom after a loss. He took Bears football very seriously.
When the Bears were in the Super Bowl in 2007, Tom, his best friend, and our son were at the rainy game in Miami. (As a note, Tom was definitely not a fair weather Bears fan. He went to the games regardless of the weather including a few January games when the temperature was below zero. I was happy not to go to those games.) And although it rained for most of the game, I don't think they left early. And I know that they stayed outside to watch the halftime show by Prince. Even though the Bears lost that Super Bowl, the three of them had a great time.
In 2009, Tom was admitted to Midwest CareCenter after a year of dealing with brain cancer. It was late January and the Bears season had ended before the playoffs, but one of his friends brought him a Bears blanket. We used it to keep Tom warm. The majority of time that Tom was in the hospice facility, he was not conscious but low and behold, on Super Bowl Sunday, he was more awake than usual. During the game, the staff came in to turn him in his bed and make sure everything was okay with him. Knowing that he loved football (by the blanket I can only assume), they asked him if he wanted to be positioned to better see the TV. They turned the bed so that he had a clear view of the game as the Steelers beat the Cardinals. It was the last football game he ever saw. But I will remember the attention to detail from the hospice staff that left us with a good football memory during a difficult time.
Even though the NFL is far from perfect, I still watch the Bears games. My son is now on the east coast but we text throughout the games and many times make comments about what Tom would be yelling at that moment in the game. Sometimes I think I miss Tom the most in the fall because of our good football memories.