Jewish World Review Nov 9, 2011 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5772
We all need something or someone to pull for
By Sharon Randall
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | They say a picture is worth a thousand words -- especially if it is seen through the eyes of love.
Recently, after Clemson lost its first football game of the year, ending any hopes for an undefeated season, I called my brother in South Carolina to offer my condolences.
He didn't answer. I wasn't surprised. He probably wasn't in much of a talking mood.
Joe is totally blind. He has never seen a football. But saying that he loves the Clemson Tigers is like saying God loves sinners. There is no way to explain it. Love is love. It's just how it is.
Joe's devotion to Clemson began when he married Tommie Jean. She, too, was totally blind, and a big Clemson fan. They were students together at the state school for the blind, but met years later through mutual friends. They dated three weeks before they were married.
Upon hearing the news, our mother threw a fit, questioning both the wisdom of the decision and Joe's mental health.
His reply was simple, but resolute: "Mama," he said, grinning, "even a blind man can fall in love at first sight."
They were married for 10 years, constant companions, the light of each other's lives, faithfully following Clemson's games on the radio.
Then, in a matter of weeks, he lost her to cancer. For a while, after her death, Joe seemed to lose all enthusiasm for things like football and life.
Imagine my relief the night I called him after a Clemson victory and heard again that old spark back in his voice.
We all need something or someone to pull for. My brother pulls for Clemson. I pull for him. I'm no big fan of football, but I'll be forever in its debt.
Last week, after I left him a message that said, in effect, "Sorry about your Tigers; call me or else," Joe called me back.
We spoke briefly about the loss. Joe was philosophical.
"Maybe it was good they lost a game, just to keep 'em humble and playing their best."
"Maybe so," I said.
"Georgia Tech was better this time than when we saw them," he added, referring to a game we attended a year ago, where each time Clemson scored, Joe clapped like a wind-up monkey and danced to the "Tiger Rag" fight song.
"Yes," I said, "they were."
Then, to my surprise, he said he didn't call to talk about football. Instead, he wanted to tell me how happy he was to get the photo of his baby nephew.
Baby nephew? Of course. He meant Henry, my 2-month-old grandson. My daughter had sent birth announcements with a photo of Henry looking like a very wise, very old man.
"How did you know it was Henry?" I teased, as if I'd forgotten Joe gets a friend to read his mail for him.
"Well, Sister," he said, "I held the picture up to my eyes and pretended I could see it. And I could! He had a big smile and a full head of hair, cute as he could be. I saw him perfectly!"
For a moment, I closed my eyes and pictured Joe as a baby, not much older than Henry. I was 4 when he was born. I remember the day my mother told me that he was blind.
"He can't be blind," I said. "He always smiles at my face."
"He smiles at your voice," she said. "He'll never see your face."
It's hard to resist making predictions for our children and grandchildren. We want to see their futures, what their lives will be like, the things they'll do, the kind of people they will be.
We wonder what will become of them. How will they ever survive without us? It's an age-old question, one that our parents and grandparents often wondered about us.
My mother was wrong about my brother. Even a blind man can see his baby nephew.
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