Ghosts That We Knew

By Ramzy Nasrallah on August 26, 2013 at 2:30p
ohio
104 Comments

So how was it?

My ears heard the question but my brain didn't register it. Just too busy concentrating on the details of the lead I was preparing to send to my account executive.

I was doing my first real job at my first cubicle in my first full year out of college and had just unearthed my first hot sales lead. That's a lot of firsts. It was also a Monday - the first day of the week. I was laser-focused on trying to look like a grown-up at work for the first time in my life.

The game. Last week I heard you talking about going to see Notre Dame. How was it?

Right into my ears again, but this time there were magic words. Football words. Someone is talking to me. I looked up.

It was Lynda, our technical support manager, leaning against my cube. I had formally met her my first day during the requisite introductions around our Chicago office, but that was it.

In a building teeming with forgettable faces, Lynda's was an easy one to remember: She was very noticeably battling cancer. Her hairless head was wrapped in a different scarf each day. Her face, which was as pale as it was disarming, always wore a giant smile.

I had noticed that whether she was walking out of a conference room, through our sterile cubicle jungle or outside in the parking lot she always looked as if she had just finished rolling around with a thousand puppies. She always looked happy.

Her face looked tired, but not from chemo treatments. Lynda looked like she was exhausted from laughing too much. Her base expression was a sweet, toothy grin.

"Was it fun?" She asked. Her eyes were big with anticipation. 

"Uh, yeah," I replied, collecting my thoughts for our first real conversation. "Didn't expect the Buckeyes to go to South Bend and light them up like that, but they did."

She laughed. "I thought of you on Saturday and I'm glad your team won. It's Ohio, right? I've heard you talk about college football from my desk and when you do your voice changes noticeably."

Lynda's office - the fancy manager's kind with both a door and a window - was only a few feet away from my cube, which had neither. I was a telemarketer in inside sales  which meant I was chatting on the phone all day. It wasn't hard to believe my tone changed when shifting the subject from software solutions to fat guy touchdowns.

Her door was never closed, which meant she must have been listening to me constantly. So she heard everything: My business calls, my personal calls, my random commentary and my morning sneezing fits. I looked toward her open office door and could see her name plate from my chair. Lynda, with a Y.

"Lynda with a Y," I awkwardly blurted out like a young Homer Simpson. "That's different."

"It is different," she smiled, tapping my name plate, "kind of like Ramzy with a Z. I'm glad you had fun. College football seems to make you really happy. You should do more with it." She then walked back toward her office.

I should do more with it? What does that mean? My attention went back to my hot sales lead. Nice lady, that Lynda. I hope she kicks cancer's ass.


It's a couple of years later and I'm in a different cubicle on the other side of the suite.

Lynda had taken an extended medical leave but she returned in remission and was now growing hair. It was light brown and came in as little spikes. There was more color in her cheeks. Her smile was unchanged.

Andy Katzenmoyer was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which was sitting on my desk. Lynda's head poked into my cube.

"Hey dude," she said smiling. "Are you ready for football season?"

"Hey, lady. I'm always ready for football season," I snapped. "Lynda, the real question is are you ready for football season?'

"Ah, I guess?" She laughed. "It seems like it's always football season in your office. Who is good this year?" She saw the magazine my desk. "Hey, that's your team, right? They're number one. Looks like they should be pretty good!"

"They should be as close to unstoppable as anything I've seen in my lifetime," I beamed. "Ohio State would have to not only step in shit to lose a game this season, they'd have to drown in it."

"Ohhhhh gross!" She shouted. "Well hopefully they'll keep the field clean! I was thinking about you because it's this time of year and you always get a little more energy right around now."

"Yeah, I guess," I replied. "But I don't sit outside of your office anymore. You can't eavesdrop on my game planning. Got all my plane tickets for the season - $39 each way to Columbus on Southwest. Booked all my college football weekends on the Internet."

"That's exciting!" She said. "Who are going to the games with?"

"I don't know yet. I just need to be there." I paused, realizing I probably needed to explain my reasoning.

"I'm 24 and all of my fall memories include football stadiums. I remember walking to games with my dad and being too little to go to the bathroom by myself. I just need to be there." There, that sounded good.

"Well," she said, "I'll look for you on television." I grinned back at her while thinking about needles and haystacks. She began to head back to her office, but stopped and turned back around. "There's that passion," she smiled. "That's not your phone voice. That's your football voice." 

"Woo!" I shouted facetiously. "Footbaaaaaaall!" 

"Have you ever thought about putting that passion on paper?" She asked. "I'm sure other football fans would love to read you. You're a creative guy." She said creative all cartoonishly, like a Sesame Street character teaching one of the children on the show a lesson.

It felt more genuine than condescending. "Formally?" I asked. "Never thought about it. I don't really do anything formally. Putting long pants on to come to this place is the most formal thing I do."

"Well," she said. "You shouldn't think about it. You should just do it. Don't think. Don't plan. Just put that passion on paper before you start thinking about work again." She wrinkled her nose at me and went back to her office.

The next morning I arrived at my desk and found a silver picture frame sitting on my chair. The photo inside was of a single word: CREATIVITY. There was a sticky note attached to it:

            don't think about doing it. don't plan to do it. just go do it.

Two weeks later the season kicked off, and I had landed a spot writing for Victors Valiant which later became The Wolverine. I was providing a Michigan fan site with "the Ohio State perspective."

Ohio State had beaten the defending national champions once over the previous decade. I basically put myself in their dunk tank once a week.

I loved it. Lynda was right.


It's a couple of years later and our business has expanded.

Our office gobbled up the suite next door and moved both sales and marketing into it, which meant a bigger cube for me. Still no door; still no window. 

Lynda was in her same spot on the legacy side of the office, still managing her support team. Her cancer had returned only to be beaten into remission again. Her victory hair hadn't grown back yet this time.

Ohio State was ranked #5 in the country. I was now writing for Bucknuts.com, where I was no longer the sole voice for Ohio State perspectives. Lynda had emailed me about my latest column. Are they legitimately good or is it too early? (The 2000 Buckeyes, as it turned out, were legitimately forgettable).

I walked toward her office to check in with her and found the door closed, which was strange. I could see through the side glass panel that one of her analysts was standing at her desk with Lynda still seated, complaining very loudly about her treatment at a customer site.

"You don't understand discrimination, Lynda!" She shouted. "You don't get prejudice. You don't know what it's like to be talked to the way they talk to me."

Lynda then quickly defused the situation by deploying what in customer service is known as feel/felt/found : I understand how you feel, I know others have felt the same way but upon further investigation what people have found is [whatever you want them to believe]. 

I eavesdropped for another minute before the analyst opened the door and walked out. I poked my head in and smiled. "Hey lady," I said sarcastically, "how's it going?"

She laughed at me. "Apparently I don't understand discrimination," she said. "Just like every other gay, bald female manager in corporate America."

"You could use some sensitivity training," I said. "I can have that arranged - they make me go every week."

"Yeah, maybe I'll ask HR. So what's up with your team? Are they for real?"

I was still emotionally shaken by Ohio State's crappy 6-6 season the prior year. "They're not the 1998 team, but they're definitely not last year's team either. They're somewhere in between."

She wrinkled her forehead. "That's not your football voice. That's your work voice. That's not good."

"Well," I said, "I'm just guarded. I'm not ready to be confident yet; not after last year. I'm too biased to be truly objective."

She smiled. "I can imagine."

"No you can't," I chuckled, "Lynda, you just don't get prejudice."


It's a couple of years later and I'm sitting in C-Deck.

"What do you keep writing there?"

I was jotting down some thoughts for a blog post while Ohio State was toying with San Jose State on a very sunny October Saturday in 2002. The man seated behind me had noticed my little, beat-up pocket-sized notepad.

"Are you a reporter or something?"

"No, I'm not a reporter," I said. "I guess you'd call me a blogger."

"If you're going to take notes during a game you should just become a reporter."

I frowned. "No way, man. That's work. This doesn't feel like work."

"Then why do you do it?" He asked. "Do you get paid?"

"Yes. But that's not why I do it."

"Then why do you do it?" Everyone in our vicinity was now listening to - and likely annoyed - by our conversation.

"Let me ask you something," I said. "Why do you come to the stadium? All of these games are on television."

"I drive here from Indianapolis for every game," the man beamed. "I can't imagine not being here."

"Me neither," I said. "I come in from Chicago. I guess you could say I'm writing a love letter. I can't imagine not doing it."

"Ah," he said. "How long have you been doing that?"

"A few years. A lady at work convinced me to do it awhile back, and now I do it all the time."

"Cool. Is she a Buckeye fan?" He asked.

"I don't think so," I replied. "She's a fan of being alive. I think she just cheers for people."

Ohio State won the BCS title that season, and I left the company where Lynda and I worked. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye because she was out on medical leave during my final month.


It's the summer of 2003 and I'm leaving a meeting at a hotel that happens to be where my former company is holding a conference. 

I ran into a bunch of old colleagues and we exchanged pleasantries in the atrium. As I was leaving one of them informed me that Lynda had made it to the conference and was in the hotel.

"Where is she?" I asked.

"Up the escalator by registration."

I went up and found her immediately: She was leaning over a table writing something down, wearing a bright green head scarf that could probably be seen from space.

"Hey, lady!"

She turned around slowly and immediately smiled. She looked like she was exhausted, but not from laughing too much. She just looked exhausted.

I hugged her very gingerly and buried my feelings about how she looked. "How's it going?"

She gave me all of the updates. Her smile said that everything was all right, but her eyes told another story. They looked fatigued from fighting the same enemy over and over again.

As it turned out, her eyes were betraying her sprit. She wasn't nearly done fighting, but that was the last time I ever saw Lynda.


It's the morning of Ohio State's 2009 spring game. I'm on my way to the stadium when my phone rings.

"Lynda passed away yesterday. I guess was very peaceful. We thought you should know."

My reaction was equal parts melancholy and relief. "Well, at least she doesn't have to deal with any of that shit anymore."

There was a brief silence on the other end of the line. "She, um, she turned 49 yesterday."

"You're kidding me," I said angrily. "Yesterday? She died on her fucking birthday?"

"Yeah, and it was what she wanted. She knew she was dying for awhile but held on until yesterday. Then she just let go."

"She must have really, really wanted to make it to 49," I figured. "Fighting until the very end."

"No, that's not it. She specifically wanted to die yesterday. On purpose. So there would only be one day."

I was confused. "One day? Her birthday? I don't get it."

"She didn't want her family to have to remember her twice."

Silence. I said nothing, only because I was having a hard time trying to make words.

"Now they only have to be sad one day every year. You know, instead of two. That's what she wanted. For them."

A few minutes later I walked into the largest college football scrimmage in history with tears in my eyes.


It's the first week of the 2013 college football season.

John Simon isn't running out of the field this Saturday. Neither are Zach Boren, Etienne Sabino or Travis Howard. It's been quite awhile since an Ohio State game was played without any of them.

The first kickoff of the season is always bittersweet for me because it's the first time many of those guys we've seen for years aren't there. Boren's farewell has been immortalized in print. That was his goodbye.

Simon limped onto the field with tears and without pads on Senior Day and won't return. They're all gone. They're ghosts. The first kickoff of the season has a way of cruelly reaffirming their permanent absence.

And yes, they're replaced by young, fresh players [obligatory Dontre Wilson mention] who will also eventually be replaced right around the time we hope they never leave, either. A player never truly owns his jersey number; he simply holds onto it for the next player and tries to make wearing it a bigger deal for that guy.

But as fleeting as each season is with replacements, kickoff also reminds me of those who can't be replaced. I've known very few people as enthusiastic about college football as former Buckeye lineman Jason Winrow, who died in his sleep last season at 41.

A new season starting reminds me of Kris Hughes, a native New Yorker who blindly decided to attend Ohio State because he was hopelessly in love with the football team.

And every season - as well as every week while I'm occupying this space - I think of Lynda Stickelmaier, whom I don't believe ever watched an entire Ohio State football game in any of her 49 years. Her life was largely already occupied by spreading laughter and fighting cancer. College football reminds me of her.

This magnificent piece of American culture, in addition to being our nation's towering achievement in athletic and social engineering, is also our greatest vehicle for temporary hellos and permanent goodbyes. It's life and death without the grim inevitability of mortality.

College football is a ghost story we just can't stop telling or listening to, which is why we should constantly try to get better at telling it. That's why we're here. That's why I write. It was Lynda who helped me figure that all out, whether she meant to or by accident.

So welcome, 2013 college football season. Autumn's here. It's time to cry.

104 Comments

Comments

RoweTrain's picture

Someone must be cutting onions in the office again. Only way to explain the teary eyes.
 
Great piece Ramzy.

jdagrava.1's picture

I agree, absolutely excellent piece.  You are quite the story-teller, Ramzy.

"It takes a little something special to be a great player.  What you got in you, we're going to find out.  And if there's a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?"

-Urban F. Meyer

Alpo's picture

Wow. Great story Ramzy, thank you for sharing it. I'm sorry for your loss of a friend and co-worker, but its great to hear how she helped you realize a dream you didn't know you had. And we are all beneficiaries of her seeing your passion. Thanks again, the piece is spectacular.

JYBUCKEYE's picture

Awesome simply awesome!!  I was having a pretty shitty day until I read this.  Kind of puts my worries into perspective.  Thank you Ramzy for this, very well done!!!!!!!

Buckeyeneer's picture

Well . . . that's a first. Can't say any 11W article has ever made me shed a tear before.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Baroclinicity's picture

Read the Kris Hughes article he links to...

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

AltaBuck's picture

Every time I go fly fishing I think of that story and Kris.

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon. - Crash Davis

BuckeyePride's picture

Just went back and read it. Wow....puts everything in perspective. Thanks for recommending it. 

How Firm Thy Friendship....

OSUNeedles's picture

One day... Each September... I cry at work when I reread that article.

This time I was in bed, so I just had to deal with my wife mocking me a little.

Borrowed Time's picture

you just have a gift for touching others with your words. incredible

Boom777's picture

I don't even cry! And you're making tears come out of my face. That is a great story.

Wherever you are, there you be!

addman1405's picture

You magnificent bastard, i'm tearing up at work. You tug at the heart strings, Nasrallah.
Thank you for sharing.

buckeye56's picture

I knew almost instantly that I should just wait until I get home to read this. I didn't. Unbelievably moving.

Maestro's picture

What day is it?

vacuuming sucks

BuckeyePride's picture

This was wonderfully written. God bless Lynda for who she was, and for pushing you to write. I truly enjoyed this from the start and didn't want it to end. Cheers

How Firm Thy Friendship....

AltaBuck's picture

"She's a fan of being alive. I think she just cheers for people."

THIS!
Now I need to go get another box of kleenex from the office supplies.
 
 

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon. - Crash Davis

cajunbuckeye's picture

One of the best comments I've ever read that describes a person.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

GregB's picture

Loved that comment as well
 
Now Im going to try and do more of that as well.  

German Buckeye's picture

What would the world be like if more did this...

avail31678's picture

I also like this one...partly because it's a silly hyperbole, but also because I could actually picture her smiling:

she always looked as if she had just finished rolling around with a thousand puppies. She always looked happy.

Unky Buck's picture

I was doing the exact thing. I was picturing her throughout the whole article. I'm glad Ramzy met such a remarkable woman.

...

nfischer's picture

My favorite line of the article...inspiring. 

ATXbucknut's picture

Problems?  I really have no problems. I forget that so often. Thanks for reminding me through this piece, Ramzy.  Sometimes your style reminds me of Frank Deford (which is a good thing).

Denny's picture

Thanks for sharing, bud. She was right; you've done and done it. 

Taquitos.

notorlandopace's picture

Longtime lurker inspired to dust off my dormant commenting account to say kudos, Ramzy.  This is special.  

thorvath22's picture

I'm at a loss of words.

Thank you Ramzy for writing everything you have ever written.

hodge's picture

Beautiful.  Simply beautiful.  Anything else I could say would only serve to cheapen that.

Jangs78's picture

Touching stuff, Ramzy.....really good read.
Lynda was a special person  -  RIP

BammBammRiley's picture

....... just speechless.

BammBamm is my dog, Riley is my 4 yr old daughter, and THE Ohio state Buckeyes complete the three most sacred loves I cherish

BCOM's picture

Thanks for sharing Ramzy. What an amazing/inspiring woman. Life is too short to not be doing what you love and spending time with the people whom you love. Thanks for sharing your creativity and passion (easily recognized in all of your writing) with all of us here. I can't tell you how many times a crappy day at work has been forgotten after reading a great article on this site. Thanks from us all!

cminnich's picture

Wow.  As someone who lost his father to cancer three years ago, you nailed how college football helps to bridge and connect memories.
My father's last game with me at Ohio Stadium was the 2009 Wisconsin game.  Dad was not feeling 100%, but we got ourselves up to C Deck to enjoy the game, a 31-13 OSU victory.  My father was a BW graduate, like Coach Tressel.  Prior to the game, I contacted Coach Tressel about my Dad's condition, and he sent my Dad a letter wishing him well, encouraging him to cheer loudly for the Buckeyes against Wisconsin.  I had no idea that Dad would not be with me before the 2010 season began.
Thank you for your uplifting story on your friend Lynda, and I am glad you took Lynda's advice to "do it".  We Buckeye fans are all better for that decision.

costinjr's picture

Ramzy, you have never once ceased to blow me away. Incredible piece. 

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

I'm speechless. This tugs at our heart.

Boxley's picture

Magnificent, you are a master story teller /writer.
I will get in line for your first book.
We could all use a Lynda in our lives, some of us may even have one and have not paid enough attention to them.
Cancer sucks.
Best wishes to Lynda's family, sounds like they lost a great person.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

LouGroza's picture

Very nice. Nothing beats a little perspective and the importance of the people and times in our lives. And how all come together to help to create who and what we are. 

blueblazer22's picture

+1 Boxley
incredible story. Always look forward to the Ramzy column, but this was exquisite. 

"They say, "these geeks come a dime a dozen.  I'm lookin' for the guy who's supplyin' the dimes." -Classy Freddie Blassie

SavannahGABuckeye48's picture

Thank you for sharing this Ramzy. Really makes you sit back and appreciate all of the bonds made with others through football. Football really is more than just a game.

MN Buckeye's picture

Ramzy, thanks for sharing this powerful celebration of life. You have a gift.

bstadnik's picture

Slow clap sir! Slow clap....

Brian

Go Bucks!

buckeyeEddie27's picture

Thank you Ramzy. 

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

BierStube's picture

Having lost two good friends this year to cancer, I must say I am having a hard time thinking about work after reading your article.  It never ceases to amaze me the perspective some folks have when they can hear the ticks of their mortal clock winding down.  Fantastic article Ramzy with a Z!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

LexingtonBuckeye's picture

Wow, it seems that she left us all a gift for inspiring you to take a chance at writing.

Jdadams01's picture

Thanks, Ramzy. You capture the way a lot of us feel about similar experiences in a way that almost none of us can.

Michael Citro's picture

I was going to thank Ramzy for writing this, but I realized I must first thank Lynda or it never would have been written.

TBDBITL0509's picture

Cheers to Lynda for a life well spent and giving us you.
Cheers to college football for bringing us all together.

cajunbuckeye's picture

Excellent writing always leads us down the path of thought and emotion. I'm very grateful that I took that walk today. Thanks, Ramzy. Very well done.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

Doc's picture

Damn it Ramzy!  I'm never ever ever reading another one of your beautifully written articles again.  I can't take it.  I usually shed a tear or two every time.  Lynda would be proud of you, you've turned into quite a scribe.
 
I'm only kidding about not reading again.  It's like Walt's meth, addicting.  You still suck, though ;).

"Say my name."

psibuck's picture

I do a lot more reading than commenting on this site, but man, that was great!  Everyone here should give thanks to Lynda for drilling it into your bourbon-soaked brain to write about college football.  

Mad Thatta's picture

Right in the feels, man, right in the feels.
Thanks for writing this, Ramzy. My mom is a cancer survivor and the message in this piece, although bittersweet, is incredibly uplifting. Just a reminder we should always celebrate the lives of the important people around us just like we celebrate Buckeye victories.

"No." - Rosa Parks

WolverineKiller's picture

This is the first time I've cried while reading a blog post.  Thanks Ramzy, and thank you Lynda.

Just Win.

Nappy's picture

I had a feeling this was going to end sadly.  Good piece, Ramzy. 
And for any of the newer members around here, if you haven't read the Kris Hughes article Ramzy linked to go do it now.  And grab tissues.  Still my favorite article on 11W.

Fan of bacon since 1981

avail31678's picture

Amazingly well written.  Wonderful structure and style/presentation.
I really wish I had known Lynda.  The world needs more Lynda's. 
 
I could never put it as eloquently as you (or like James Earl Jones describes baseball in Field of Dreams), but I agree, Ramzy - sports really can mark the times and cement memories of all kinds.  Here comes the 2013 football season!  2012 was filled with destiny and magic.  Here's to Lynda and here's to the 2013 season continuing right where 2012 left off.
GO BUCKS!
 

pcuzz1's picture

Thanks for sharing, ramzy! One of the more touching pieces I have read! Lynda sounds like she was a wonderful and inspirational woman!

pat cozzens

TheBadOwl's picture

Wow. Lynda's story really makes me feel awful for being so complacent in my life. I need to start living. Thanks, Ramzy, and thanks, Lynda.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

Remy's picture

The next morning I arrived at my desk and found a silver picture frame sitting on my chair.
The photo inside was of a single word: CREATIVITY. There was a sticky note attached to it: don't think about doing it. don't plan to do it. just go do it.

A very touching tribute to a remarkable woman.
You are very blessed to have had her influence on your life.
Please, pay it forward.
Great piece of writing.

"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later." ~ Mitch Hedberg

hspbuy1's picture

 
Wow! I saw a lot of comments on this story, so I thought I'd take a quick glance at it,then I ended up reading the whole thing. I'm glad I did. Thank you!

hspbuy1

JBuckeye's picture

Fuck Ramzy!  Couldn't you have at least let me wallow in my self pity for a little while longer?  Instead of worrying about work, school, or bills or the usual stuff, now your making me all happy inside looking forward to when quitting time comes so I can go home and just be with my family!
All joking aside, Thank God for Lynda because without her inspiration the fans of my beloved university would not get to experience the writing of a truly great talent.
Thank you Lynda and thank you Ramzy!

Unky Buck's picture

Well done, Ramzy. Well. Done. I wish there wasn't so much dust in this room that's causing some irritation to my eyes though...

...

SoDakBuckeyeFan's picture

Possibly the best piece I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Thank you for sharing it with us. 

SoDakBuckeyeFan

JollyFatMan's picture

Awesome. Just awesome.

How firm thy friendship..

toad1204's picture

and this is why I read 11w.  One of your best Ramzy.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

Idaho Helga's picture

I was tired and off to bed when I saw you had a new post Ramzy, so of course I had to read it.  Glad I did it at home.  Very touching.  You are an extraordinary  writer. 
 
  <sniff><sniff> <blutttchhh into kleenex>

brband64's picture

Wonderful. Thank you.

BeerNBuckeyes's picture

Wonderful story... and she was correct in pushing you towards writing. A great tribute to college football, passion, humanity and a good friend all in one.
 

southbay's picture

I don't know what else to say that hasn't been said, but I wanted to thank you for that.

Outstanding piece.

Gametime's picture

Is it just me or does it seem like those who are staring death in the face are the ones who are the most closely attuned to the essence of life itself?
That passion for life....that's the reason I left Pre-Med to become a Graphic Artist.
I'm telling you now, Ramzy needs to write a book...and hopefully (selfishly) he doesn't leave us!
Thanks and many kudos!

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

geoffrsc's picture

Great piece, Ramzy. Memorable.

SuperBuckFan08's picture

Damnit, Ramzy you done did it again. First with the Sept 11th story and now this. You sir have an unbelievable way with words. 

Because I couldn't go for three.   -Woody-

ohiowhitesnake's picture

You write some great stuff for us, but this trumps them all! I made the mistake of reading on a break at work. For some reason it got really dusty in my office!
thank you for sharing!

burkmon's picture

Thank you for reminding me to enjoy the little things everyday.

 

GrizzledWarrior's picture

Damn you Ramzy!  Why do you have to be so good!
I'm 57 years old, a lifelong CFB and Buckeye nut, have had a niece, a brother and a cousin succumb to the evil and merciless cancer in the past 2 1/2 years, and one of my nephews has strongly suggested recently that I start blogging. With that trifecta coupled with your column, a real kick in the pants.
It's been a couple of hours since I read your article and my eyes just won't stay dry.
Life is beautiful and for me, your contributions to 11W are a part of that. I always look forward to your writings even it may cause me to run out of kleenex.
Thank you.

Jabba the Hoke's picture

Beautiful, thank you for sharing. Everyone needs a Lynda (or two) in their life.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

An article like this helps put things in perspective.  Wow, did I really type that corny cliche?  One of my best friends died at age 49, I spent his last week with him at the hospice, and was in the room when he passed away ... at exactly 3:15 PM at a facility right off of Olentangy River Road.  Bob demonstrated courage and class during his entire ordeal.  To be brutally honest to myself, I don't think I could endure what he did with such dignity.  I think the Zen masters are right (to continue with my cliched yet oh so true sentiments), you should live every minute to the fullest.  Very will written, bittersweet article.
P.S. I was about to hit send when my wife hollered up to me to come see what she had.  I'm back now.  About 2 minutes ago our next door neighbors gave us two tickets, very nice seats, to the San Diego game as they will be out of town.  Weird.  Wonderful.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

txbucknut's picture

An amazing job, Ramzy....simply amazing. Well done. 

wojodta's picture

Truly enchanting. Thank you for this Ramzy.

Davep160's picture

As my dad finishes his radiation and chemo, I sit here in an Ohio Applebees crying my eyes out.

HighBallAce's picture

I can't think of a better way to honor someone that you think so highly of! Very well done!

harleymanjax's picture

"She didn't want her family to have to remember her twice"
Damnit Ramzy that line was like a kick in the nuts!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great article Ramzy.  I think I got something in my eye, no I'll be okay, I just need a minute.  Damn it Ramzy.  We'll it sure does make you think about the bigger picture.  Great writing man. 
 

Poison nuts's picture

Ramzy, thanks for a wonderful & inspired piece of writing. It brought to mind my own mother. She had me at University Hospital, & is the main reason I feel the way I do about OSU...which is probably fanatical to an unhealthy extent, but I have plenty of good company on this site & elsewhere, so I don't feel too bad about it. She passed away after a long battle with Lupus at a fairly young age but before she did, she convinced me to pursue my lifelong goal of opening the business I currently have. Reading this story made me smile & also cry. So thank you again & also...dammit, I'm too tough to cry. Keep up the great work. Autumn is here & hopefully inspires many great stories to write about for years to come.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

Nutbuck1959's picture

Ramzy, I have read your stuff since Bucknuts was a free site.  You really are a good writer, and this article proves it so well. Keep being creative.

BuckeyePride's picture

Great song too

How Firm Thy Friendship....

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Great song too

Absolutely. Lifted the title directly from it.

 

OurHonorDefend09's picture

If anyone needs me, I'll be crying in my bed listening to Autumn's Here until 12pm Saturday. As a recent OSU graduate just displaced in Chicago, this piece hits home on multiple levels. Might be your best yet, Ramzy.

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

nfischer's picture

You are quite the wordsmith, Ramzy.  Thanks for sharing a piece of your soul. This is what sets great writers apart from the good ones, imo.

pjtobin's picture

This was a great read. I couldn't agree with you more! This was beautiful. Thank you Ramzy for  sharing. I loved this. Thank you very much. Wow!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

luckynutz's picture

Such a heartfelt, touching tribute to a woman none of us ever met. From your words, she reminds of a woman I knew well. My mother, who had the same outlook on life. Her greatest joy was helping people realize their full potential as a teacher. She also lost the fight with cancer 15 long years ago...while I was in high school. She made sure to be on the deck every friday night to watch me play football. Even though she never made it out of the house any other time. And would always be waiting up for me with a smile on her face and pride in her eyes when I came home after every game. Cancer may have won the war, but she fought hard and never let it take away the things that brought joy to her life. Thank you for this piece...it gives me a whole new perspective on the impact she still has on my life even after her passing.

gbdawg's picture

Awesome article Ramzy

Hovenaut's picture

Catching up on yesterday's articles.

Worth the wait, well done Ramzy.

A nod above to my Uncle Pete, I'll be watching them all with you this fall.

Frostybuck88's picture

Wow Ramzy... you continue to hone your craft very well.  Thanks for the perspective, nostalgia, and glimpse into why you do what you do.  Great read sir.

The Dude abides...

bucked up's picture

Ramzy did it again. He did it again

macbraddy's picture

What an amazing woman and an amazingly written story. 
 

Go Bucks!!!

ab42beerman's picture

Damn.  Very much appreciated this article Ramzy and appreciate Lynda without ever knowing her.  Well done sir and I'm sure she'd have a big-ass smile on her face reading this.

hail2victors9's picture

[Fast clap, followed by faster, relentless applause] There was no doubt of brilliance, Ramzy.
The best part of college football is the way it brings people together.  It's stories like these that have us all rooting for the same team.  I'm so glad I read this piece.
Thanks for sharing, Ramzy.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

Larryp713's picture

What a great story, Ramzy. I had never really connected the loss of seeing my favorites donning the S&G, and this really takes it home. And I bawled like a baby. Good stuff.

Respectfully,

Larryp713

northwest_buckeye's picture

Jesus Christ. That's the saddest and (at the same time) most beautiful thing I've read in a while. We all have people like that in our lives... The ones that don't think they're doing anything extraordinary aside from being themselves. But they're the ones hardest to forget. Wow.
 
Now I'm gonna go drink some beers and hang sheet rock while listening to AC/DC for a few hours. That's man stuff, right?

I've never said I 'hate' anyone because that would imply I had any emotion for them whatsoever.

Buckeye419er's picture

Amazing. 

Thank you for taking us on that journey. Lynda sounds like she was quite a magnificent woman. And as much as I would love to say that it's a shame that she was afflicted with that crippling disease, it's most likely what made her exactly who she was. A person without fear who helped others to face their own. 

chromedomebuck's picture

Superb writing Ramzy! You really do have a wonderful gift!

Champions Bleed Scarlet & Gray

ibuck's picture

Ramzy,
The stories about Sticklemaier and Hughes were both well written and moving. I'm glad you're posting for 11W. Keep writing!

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

jthiel09's picture

I'd love to see anyone at ESPN write anything that moving ... amazing Ramzy ... amazing.

JT