Once upon a time I was in England going to Bible college in a castle.
Over the castle loudspeaker an English voice clipped, "Annie, you have a phone call in kiosk #2."
Overseas phonecalls, pre-cell phone days, were expensive and therefore rare.
I answered the phone and listened as my mom told me that I had a new nephew. My older sister had a boy following her two older girls. My heart and eyes welled up as I rejoiced with my family.
Years passed and I moved from England back to Alaska and finally down to the states only a few hours from my sister and her family. One time when I was at my sister's house I had a sweet tooth. She offered me the kid's Easter candy that she had stashed on top of the fridge. Not stopping to think about the fact the Easter had been several months previous, I picked out a Cadbury Creme Egg. Braden my nephew, who was about 2 years old, stood next to me and watched as I bit (with relish) into that creme egg. My expression changed to one of concern almost instantly and when I looked down into the egg I had just bitten from, I found that it was filled with ants instead of sugary, syrupy yolk.
I panicked. I grabbed the first thing within reach and wiped my tongue off. Repeatedly. Unfortunately, the first thing within reach was my nephew. I licked his arm up and down and possibly his shirt (the memory is a little fuzzy). He walked away from me as soon as I was done and fell face-down on the couch. He was traumatized.
Saturday, I sat in the stands waiting to watch Braden's high school football team compete for the 4A state title. My mom sat next to me on one side. My sister sat on the other side of my mom. My kids sat on the other side of me. The game started and we all became violent. A bad call from the ref. brought gnashing of teeth from all of us. My mother regularly screamed, "JUSTICE!" I noted as Braden made his first touchdown that we all, my mom, sister, nieces, etc. jumped up and down like bunnies.
I don't know a first down from a touch down. My mom may possibly know less than me. My sister has some vague ideas but regularly seeks her husband to explain what's happening. We don't know a lot about football. But we know this boy, and we love him. We want him to succeed, we want him to win. We are willing to scream ourselves hoarse and be bunnies for his sake.
As I sat there in the cold on Saturday I realized that being there wasn't about football at all. (Disclaimer: My husband does not agree with this statement) It was about family. It was about investing in the lives of the people around us; praying for them and following up the prayers with actions and time together. It was about two antagonistic sisters who grew up and learned to love each other. It was about a little mom who held us all together with her love and prayers. And it was about all these kids, these cousins who grew up together sharing life.
Braden, as quarterback, led his team to victory. As soon as we were able we surged the football field and found our son/grandson/nephew. My mom, who comes up to Braden's bellybutton, had her camera held up over her head trying to get a picture of his face. She got a nice shot of someone's ear.
We were all laughing, following this boy across the field.
We were celebrating a family win.