Sundays. Homemade freshly ground black coffee, a warming soulful fire and two newspapers waiting for me. Rising early, a little music in the background, my partner sitting next to me on the couch opening the local paper first to catch up on what is going on in our little state of Rhode Island. I sit here this morning writing with so many choices in my morning and feel fortunate and at peace. There is something so snug about this calmness; it is a life nugget that is not always present- or maybe it is, but I don’t always isolate it as a special moment.

Today I notice. I only have forty five minutes before I have to get up from this couch to go to my 8:00am workout. I love my Sunday am workout with my crazy trainer and friend, Kathy; she has some nutty workout concocted. The goal of the group is to together burn 10,000 calories in this hour and fifteen minute class in our Patriots gear with head banging music screaming out of the speakers. I frankly can’t believe that this is part of who I am now, but as much as I love sitting on the couch, it will be waiting for me after the class with a much better feel under my body. I love sitting on the couch on a cold wintry Sunday of the morning of the Superbowl after a workout with nothing planned except writing, reading my new book from the library and getting ready to open the New York Times. I also have my ingredients ready to go to cook my contribution for an impromptu Superbowl gathering at my friend’s house tonight.

The Patriots playing in the Superbowl brings up some great memories for me from my former life. Well before we had our son, Dave and I actually went to the Superbowl in Atlanta, well before Atlanta was referred to as “Hotlanta.” The game was from the 1993 season, Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys and we were going with my friend and his wife who had gotten us tickets. Back then they were six hundred dollars a piece, no chump change for sure. This was when the Superbowl was still in January before the marketers got a hold of it realizing that one extra week would mean extra dineros. We were still newly married just celebrating our three year anniversary.

This was BEFORE. Marriage and Life are like this- so many BEFORES, time stamping our lives. Before we had our son, before we even were thinking of having children, before my brother was diagnosed or even had any indications that there would be a diagnosis. We had just bought our first home in the summer of 1992 so taking a trip like this was a splurge, but it fulfilled a dream for my former husband. I was that new young wife filled with the hopes and desires to live a rich wedded bliss so this was an exciting trip for us.

I remember thinking of the opportunity in Atlanta back then. There wasn’t even a bagel shop anywhere to be found. Atlanta was just getting ready for the summer Olympics in 1996 and there was an ‘up and coming’ not yet realized buzz in the hot Georgia air. Dave and I loved it so much, we were actually considering moving there. We had a realtor and everything picked out and were ready to dive in with our first big wedded risk until I remembered upon my return that there was no water to speak of, no ocean. Funny how I forgot about the missing ocean while I was traipsing around the streets of Atlanta. This Pisces chick couldn’t imagine my life without a fifteen minute ride to any beach so I caved in my decision. Dave would have taken the risk; there were a few moments like this I kyboshed in our young lives. I often wonder if I had some premonition of the isolation that would have come from a drastic move with someone I loved yet really didn’t have a lot in common with ultimately.

Come to think of it I wasn’t much of a risk taker back in my late twenties. I just wanted the safety, security and calmness of the home life I had ripped from me in my teens. I wanted the picket fence and the satisfaction of a good partnership, this was all part of the BEFORE. I worshipped the dream and the many lessons soon to follow that I surely didn’t know about yet as we made our way exploring the streets of Atlanta. We were starry eyed back then and we were happy to live in that starry eyed world of BEFORE. It was satisfying and exciting in some ways and I have watched with delight my young team beginning their lives with the same naivete.

Going to a Superbowl was a once in a lifetime for me and like the deep appreciation I had watching Dave be an amazing father to Michael, I watched him at this game more than I watched the game. Ironically, I don’t even like football. When we were down there I actually contemplated selling my ticket and sitting at the bar instead. Football games are wasted on me, I have never understood the game, still don’t, but I do appreciate the pomp and circumstance of the Superbowl so I went and was really glad I did. Just watching Dave’s face made me so happy. This was one of the many BEFORES. When life simply was, before I realized that the small rumblings of dissatisfaction would eventually unwind my notion of marriage to the person I thought I would be with forever. When our son was born, he was like a good luck charm as his birth on December 27, 1997 was the weekend of the first big time the Patriots at last began showing promise. December 28th they would be playing a playoff game against the Miami Dolphins. I don’t think my former husband could have been more ecstatic.

I watch my son’s love of all things sports and television. I watch his connection with Dave and the camaraderie they share because it just so happens that Dave ended up with a child who loves sports as much as he does. I don’t know what he would have done if Michael was into art and music or something other than sports instead. I have some friends who have children who could care less about sports. Not Michael. He is all sports and has been since his first T ball game. Not surprising since his birth was when it all started.

So much has happened since that Superbowl, but this is life coming at us. We have those juicy markers reminding us of all of the diamonds in the rough, the pleasantries, the traumas, the dramas, and the rediscovery of ourselves in the process if we are open to the lessons. I never realized that the Superbowl I attended in January of 1994 would be the last January of the life as I knew it. The next major life marker put me in a new frame of mind just six months later when my dear brother was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer and our lives would never be the same. Young death changed me, but so does LIFE and having our son two years later was the gift that keeps on giving. So as I get ready to actually watch the Superbowl this year without putting the TV on mute as I read the paper, (sacrilege, I know), I wholeheartedly celebrate the BEFORES because in all of them, the AFTERS are so sweet.

the day after Michael was born and a happy face the year they won their first Superbowl, 2002, only five years later and the rest is history including that other New England team we call THE RED SOX.



From the time my son, Michael, was in kindergarten he was on the sporting track to play baseball. His dad played baseball among about five other sports so the first T ball game was like watching the Red Sox win the World Series. I wasn’t sure if I had more fun watching my son try to hit the ball off the black t looking like a professional baseball player or watching Dave, his dad, my former husband.

I wasn’t much of a sports kid when I was younger. I was more on the music and arts track as back then it seemed that you were one or the other. I am not really sure if this is accurate, but my perception was this and I also think it had something to do with your own parents personal narrative. My father was never interested in sports, I never recall any sporting events playing on television or him attending any professional games with my brother or me for that matter. My mother too was never interested either and so I ended up in music classes mostly. Violin, piano, flute and even a short stint with the oboe. I was competitive in music and vying to be first seat in whatever school band I landed in.

I did have a brief attempt at middle school basketball, but this was short lived as I was not comfortable with a team sport. I actually had intense anxiety before a game, so I quickly realized that basketball was not to be. I also tried cheerleading, but in the seventies and eighties cheerleading was an addendum to a sporting event, not the full blown sporting event it has turned into at present. The only sporting event I actually competed in was gymnastics and swimming. I loved gymnastics because even though you were on a team, you were solo performing and that was my thing. (for those people who know me I am sure this is no surprise). Swimming I was never very fast at, but I did enjoy my brief time on a swim team at the Fall River, Mass Y. I think I was in third grade around eight years old and I distinctly remember the superstars on the team because they stood out due to their parents’ example of parental performance at the swim meets. When Susie (this was the rockstar’s name- she must have made a an impact on me since I recall her name with such ease) propelled forward with her stunning butterfly swim down the lane, her parents cheered and hooted in a way that felt to me the way parents were supposed to hoot and holler at their child at a sporting event. I looked over at my parents who were in attendance and I actually think I saw them roll their eyes in distaste at Susie’s parents. I think they were likely thinking that the behavior was provincial and beneath the way they were raised. They would not be “those type of parents,” surely. For me this was a defining moment in my swim career. If I wasn’t to get the bells and whistles from my parents, swimming on the swim team felt anticlimactic. Perhaps I chose music because yelling and screaming at a performance was just not part of the menu options so this gave them the free pass at not living up to my parental expectation from the get go.

When my son started playing baseball I vowed that I would be the type of parent like Susie’s parents were. Attending every game, volunteering to be a team mom, doing my share at the concession stand and most importantly cheering loud and proud at every game. Part of my personal parenting strategy was to make up for all of my own parents’ inadequacies. Of course in hindsight this wasn’t always the best strategy, but it was certainly a great jumping off point. Dave was the opposite, his parents were those type of parents who went to games, bought all the gear and really participated, hence a repeat for his own son. I had the double pleasure of watching my son over the years, but alos watching my husband watch my son and it was a thrill almost every time. I say almost because there were those occasional wincing coaching moments of impatient coaches forgetting that the kids were eight and not trying out for major league baseball.

At my son’s games, I met parents, learned what was the best type of chair to buy to bring to the games, how to dress warmly enough, and for the next eleven years of his schooling, kindergarten through tenth grade, Dave and I went to almost every game and attended with vigor. We were both bummed when we noticed Michael starting to lose his enthusiasm for the game after tenth grade as I watched him lie around the house when he really should have been practicing for tryouts. As a result he got cut from the team after his second round of his junior year of high school. I wasn’t sure who I felt worse for, Michael or Dave or Michael having to tell Dave. Just like wishing I knew when the last hand hold or good night mommy hug was to be, I wish I had known that the previous year’s last game was to be, because just like that, my career as sports attending mom was over. No more complaining about the having to leave a campground to get to a game (we were teaching commitment to our young six year old, I laugh at us in reflection thinking back on how much credence we gave to it all) no more jumping up and down because of a great hit or or game saving catch. No more parental get togethers after the game and no more concession stand volunteering. I had to admit, I had some withdrawl, but I was happy to see Michael spread his wings a bit and take up golf, actually get a job because he was now free from the ties of a team and take up sailing. I think that the cut from the team was a blessing and it seemed that it was something Michael may have either consciously or unconsciously wanted. He took his senior year and the first part of his freshman year of college off from team anything. He was free.

When I got the call that he decided to give Rugby a try, I was a little startled. Rugby? Was it because I had taken him to London for his winter break? Why Rugby? I mean he is 5’7 and not a big kid like a traditional rugby player. Rugby doesn’t wear any protection either to speak of, but off he went to join the URI Rugby club. He started last spring and was hooked. This year, his sophomore year, he went to the Rugby camp that the salty dog Rugby coaches organized a week before school started. Last night I attended my first, his second game of the fall season on the B team and was at home again. Talking to a mom getting to know where to buy Rugby paraphilia because I now must have a URI Rugby shirt and I felt like the good old days again. I was transported back to the early years of glorious parent sporting event attendance. I didn’t realize how much I missed the camaraderie and the excuse to get out of the house to attend something totally out of my radar and comfort zone. I have no idea how this game works, but as I watched my son screech down the field, get tackled and protected I found myself in that familiar thrilling place of parenting like the good old days.

And I loved it. GO URI RUGBY.

happy me and my friend peg, my son the blury one.