So we laid my aunt to rest this morning.
She was only 55 and it definitely was not expected.
I wasn’t really that close with her anymore – we saw each other typically just on holidays or when my stepdad and brother’s band played at various questionable bars around Columbus – but she was always an incredibly upbeat lady and my brother and I were much closer to her when we were kids.
Before I go any further, my apologies for not bringing 1,000-1,500 words on how Carlos Hyde is going to be the guy that most exceeds expectations on offense with Bradley Roby doing the same on the other side of the ball. The good news, though, is that both are inevitable.
Anyway, despite usually doing pretty much whatever I can to avoid dealing with death, I did spend a good bit of last night thinking about those times when my bro and I were kids, moving from baseball season right into football season followed by a basketball-heavy winter.
From age 5 until we eventually took our sports playing to the high school level, my stepdad coached virtually every single one of those teams and besides my mom, it was my aunt that made a run at nearly a decade’s worth of perfect attendance.
I always thought that was pretty impressive – how dedicated she was to cheering us on – but I really credit her for was helping instill the importance of winning.
Back in those days, it was still okay for the really good teams (usually us) to beat the crap out lesser squads. Winning was important. Participation trophies meant nothing. During baseball season and through the start of football we were only allowed to go the pool for a few hours so we didn’t blow all our energy before first pitch or kickoff.
My aunt’s role in all of this was to pony up a trip to Dairy Queen provided we brought home a victory.
Losses didn’t earn a banana split with all hot fudge. Hell, they didn’t even earn a dollar to load up on a cocktail of Lemonheads, Jawbreakers, Cow Tales and Fun Dip.
That was a big deal to us. We wanted to kick ass and when the game was over, I guess you could say we wanted our just desserts. Mere seconds after the postgame coach speak, we’d be in her bad ass orange Trans Am complete with t-tops and a huge, black hood bird before she could even fold up her lawn chair.
We’d relive the key moments during the game that served as a catalyst for our trip to sugar town and we’d have the same debates on what we were going to get.
I usually acted like I was going to change things up with a peanut buster parfait but I always found my way back to a large heath bar blizzard before we rolled up on the set, hoping our uniforms were dirty enough to make it evident to any onlookers that we had won, and done so convincingly.
The more I think about it, dangling of a free trip to Dairy Queen where things like glorious hot fudge and ridiculously hot high school coeds lurked behind the counter essentially helped guide us toward understanding the essence of life.
Life is about winning. To the driven, that means trying to be the best as a father, husband, person, employee, friend and the like. I tip my cap to my aunt for doing her small part to instill a desire to not only win, but to simply want to have something “on the line”.
A direct byproduct of this for many is carried over into our extra-curricular activities. Because of an ingrained appetite for winning, aka being successful, we gravitate toward competition.
That’s why we’re such diehards when it comes to our favorite sports teams. When the Buckeyes win, it feels like we won with them. The ‘they’ morphs into ‘we’ and we drink to old Ohio to we wobble in our shoes.
With the one year post-season ban in place, the ultimate spoils for the Buckeyes won’t be in play this year. No BCS title berth, no BCS bowl, not even a TaxSlayer.com Gator. All that remains is a shot to put Michigan back in their place.
Once victory is secured, I hope Urban steals a page from my aunt’s book and takes the boys out for a Brownie Earthquake. What better way to celebrate sweet redemption than with the should-be-illegal combination of ice cream, brownies, Oreos, hot fudge, and whipped cream?
Life is about winning. To the victor go the spoils.