This I believe…
On an autumn day about 22 years ago my grandfather gave me the best gift that anyone had ever given me to that time. I phrase it this way because I am blessed with wonderful friends and family, an abundance of love and good fortune. I’ve since received:
• poems from a pretty girl – just the thought of which make me cry
• meals that were edible art
• trips to visit my bother across the country
• drinks with friends
• hugs from family
• my fiancé telling me she loves me – a moment as beautiful as her
• of course Thorton, my adorable pet tortoise – a bell’s hinge-back about the size of a nerf football. We watched ball games together while he sat on my chest – I did most of the watching. While admittedly subtle in the expressive department, he was my little buddy and I miss him dearly. He passed a few years ago.
Each of these a cherished gift. A memory that I keep in my heart.
22 years ago I received something different. I got a call that afternoon. My grandfather gave me a victory. A little abstract, but that was it. A win in that night’s game.
He knew I was a bit of a fan and he said we would win because it was my birthday, and there was no other reason necessary. I was 17 at the time and old enough to know that the tooth fairy probably was in cahoots with my parents. Of course this was a gift beyond his physical ability to give. I knew it to be true then as now.
“Son, this is your day, and this is your game. They’re going to win because of that. My gift to you is to remind you that today’s win is yours.” His voice was stereotypically grandfather-deep and we had a phone that echoed just enough to make him actually sound prophetic.
Unfortunately god got this one slightly wrong and my team lost. Embarrassingly, historically so. And I blamed myself. If the game was mine, then so too must be the loss. My logic was at least as sound, but I missed to the point. In point of fact it took me a couple decades to get it. He made me believe that a game played on a national stage was just for me. He gave me a night that millions of people got to watch. I was the center of everything I knew… because my grandfather said so.
My grandfather has since passed and we never spoke of my present after that day. I still consider him one of my closest friends.
The only presents I feel comfortable with are those I give… I never stopped believing I was responsible – for this I apologize to all those crestfallen players and fans. And I believe a wonderful man gave me a great gift. He gave me belief.
… and my 17th birthday was October 25th in 1986… and I still live in Boston.