Roll Tide

Clemson scores. Alabama is falling behind. This is difficult to watch. Our team is making mistakes.

The NCAA National Championship. Alabama is playing Clemson in a fight to the death. I am in a living room with my elderly mother-in-law, Mary, preparing to watch the big game.

Mother Mary sits beside me, sipping seltzer water. Mother Mary is eating ice cream. Mother Mary is hard of hearing.

The phone rings.

She answers the phone.

“HELLO?!” she hollers into the phone. “YES! THAT’S RIGHT! WE’RE WATCHING THE GAME! HOW ARE YOU, EDNA?”

Brief silence.

“OH, ISN’T THAT NICE?”

Kickoff.

I’m tuning her out and focusing on the television. This is, quite possibly, the most pivotal game of all time. These are the best teams in the—

“HAAAAAAAH! IS HE STILL ALIVE? OH, I REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS A YOUNG MAN, HE WAS HANDSOME! REMEMBER WHEN HE USED TO WEAR THOSE BASKETBALL SHORTS! REMEMBER? THOSE REALLY TIGHT SHORTS? LORD HAVE MERCY, I DIDN’T HATE THOSE SHORTS.”

Shoot me now.

“YES! THAT’S RIGHT! THEY WERE SUCH SKIMPY SHORTS FOR SUCH A WELL-BUILT, STRONG BOY!”

The Lord is my Shepherd…

Clemson scores. Alabama is falling behind. This is difficult to watch. Our team is making big mistakes.

“UH HUH! I JUST SPOKE WITH BEVERLY YESTERDAY! YOU KNOW SHE HAD THAT GOITER CUT OFF HER NECK LAST WEEK? DO YOU KNOW THE DOCTORS CUT IT OPEN AND FOUND SOME TEETH AND HAIR INSIDE IT? BLESS HER HEART!”

This game is tense. In fact, I am so nervous, I am about to make a puddle from all the stress. But the important thing to remember here is—

“OOOOOHHH NOOOOOOOOO! SHE DID?! REALLY? OH, GOD LOVE HER! I HEARD SHE HAD HIP SURGERY! HOW IS SHE? OH, SHE IS? THAT’S WONDERFUL! ISN’T SHE JUST THE SWEETEST THING? BUT A LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD ME HER POTATO SALAD TASTED LIKE FERTILIZER!”

Halftime.

Alabama is still behind. Their defense has been drowning. We are falling. I don’t want to talk about it.

I crawl off the sofa to stretch my legs and get something cold to drink. I’m trying to stay positive about this game, even though our heroes are behind.

“UH, HUH! I REMEMBER IT LIKE YESTERDAY! ALL THOSE BASKETBALL PLAYERS CAME TO OUR HOUSE FOR LUNCH WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER! AND LORD, THOSE SHORTS THEY WORE, SO SHORT AND PERFECT…”

He leadeth me beside the still waters…

“AND SO VERY, VERY TIGHT!”

Miss Mary giggles like a teenager.

I sit down with a cold beverage. The game is a tragedy.

Another touchdown by Clemson. Lots of applause on the TV. Alabama is done for.

“HAAA HAAAH! SO THEN SHE TELLS HIM, ‘YOU BETTER PUT THAT SPATULA DOWN, OR I’M GONNA SHOW YOU WHERE YOU CAN SHOVE THAT PEAR SALAD!’ YES! THAT’S WHAT SHE TOLD HIM! HAND TO GOD!”

Another fantastic play by the opposing team. Our boys are losing ground. This is a bloodbath I can hardly watch.

“DID YOU KNOW JIMMY COKER HAS A BOX SEAT?! YES HE DOES! WELL, BELIEVE IT, EDNA! I WONDER HOW MUCH ONE OF THOSE SPECIAL BOXES COSTS? IS JIMMY COKER STILL MARRIED? WHAT A SHAME, HE ALWAYS WAS KINDA CUTE! DID YOU EVER NOTICE HOW MEN WITH MONEY ARE ALWAYS SO MUCH CUTER?!”

Now the game is over.

My beloved team has lost. The University of Alabama gave it all they had, and even though they were conquered, I am not disappointed in them. I will never be disappointed in them.

“OKAY TAKE CARE! GOODNIGHT!” Mother Mary says, hanging up the phone.

Then, she grins at me.

“So,” she says. “Which team won?”

I hang my head.

We turn the TV off. Miss Mary is ready for bed. My wife removes the oxygen nose piece from her face. Mary leans onto her walker and we help her shuffle to the bedroom.

When she is all tucked in, she hugs me and says, “Sweetie, it’s only football. Don’t be so sad. We’ll get’em next year, right?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I say.

She touches my cheek. Her eyes are smiling at me with the wisdom of years.

“Sean,” she says. “I’m sorry I talked about those skimpy basketball shorts.”

“It’s okay, Mother Mary.”

“But Lord have mercy, those tight shorts really were something to see.”

Roll Tide.

41 comments

  1. Judy - January 8, 2019 6:58 am

    I am on a bus reading your story…”those short shorts…I didn’t hate them” made me laugh out loud. 😂
    Sorry about your team. I know it was a shocker.
    Even though my colors are orange and blue, I was a SEC Fan today.

    Reply
    • Tina - January 8, 2019 1:30 pm

      Good morning Sean. I love what you write. Makes my morning. What makes my morning today is my Tigers are the National Champions. CLEMSO N!

      Reply
  2. Kaye Wells - January 8, 2019 7:02 am

    Roll Tide always!

    Reply
    • Lana Jones Barbaree - January 8, 2019 3:11 pm

      I liked tight shorts also. Roll Tide.

      Reply
  3. Pamela McEachern - January 8, 2019 7:19 am

    Love Ms. Mary, She will always be a teen…THANK GOODNESS I am sad our team lost but I am so proud of the wonderful year they have had. Cudos to Dabo and his team, he is still an Alabama Son.

    Peace and Love from Birmingham RTR!

    Reply
  4. Sallie - January 8, 2019 9:39 am

    I am a younger Miss Mary…,,,,, talk to much during the game… you gotta love Dabo for all he came from and what he has accomplished in life…..

    Reply
  5. Jean - January 8, 2019 10:27 am

    Sigh….RTR!!!

    Reply
  6. Don - January 8, 2019 11:57 am

    Sean, you captured life, as real as it gets! Oh the wisdom of elders. If only we learned to listen a little sooner!

    Reply
  7. Elizabeth Edens - January 8, 2019 12:02 pm

    A woman needs her good memories to reflect upon when times are tough!

    Reply
  8. Connie Havard Ryland - January 8, 2019 12:02 pm

    It was difficult to watch but Roll Tide anyway. Bless you for loving your mother in law so much. You’re a very nice man. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  9. C Johnson - January 8, 2019 12:29 pm

    Her conversation kept you from also hearing the tragedy unfold. There’s always next year. I learned that by being a life long Cubs fan. ROLL TIDE

    Reply
  10. Dell - January 8, 2019 12:35 pm

    At least you had a distraction! I gave it up before the 4th quarter started! Roll Tide and congratulations to Clemson! If Alabama had to go down I’m glad it was Clemson. There’s always next year…

    Reply
  11. Jess in Athens, GA - January 8, 2019 1:00 pm

    Sean, I’d like to feel your pain about Alabama losing the BIG GAME, but I just can’t do it. I live in Athens, GA, and well, you know, I pull for the Dawgs. Maybe next year will be better for both our teams.

    Reply
  12. Frieda Borntrager - January 8, 2019 1:09 pm

    LOL! Several times. What a hoot you are, Mr. Sean!

    Reply
  13. MermaidGrammy - January 8, 2019 1:26 pm

    Someone told me, about 20 years ago, “ALABAMA fans don’t have the guts to be Auburn fans”. (Sorry, but my phone automatically does ALABAMA in all caps). We’re too accustomed to winning to gracefully lose. The mighty have not fallen, but they were run over. St Nick suffered his worst thing: loss. He said one time, “I don’t like winning nearly as much as I hate losing”. Anyway, it was a good game – lots of beautiful plays – just by Clemson. What kind of name is “Dabo” anyway? Sounds like a frou-frou foreign lapdog. Rollllll Tide!

    Reply
  14. Johnnie B - January 8, 2019 1:45 pm

    Next year. And I hope she gets to be there with you talking her way to a Bama victory! RTR!

    Reply
  15. Liz Watkins - January 8, 2019 2:10 pm

    OMGOSH!! So funny what old people say!! Sorry about Alabama but Clemson was the better team! I’m an LSU fan, so you know how we feel about trader Nick! Karma is always there waiting to bite you in those teeny tiny tight shorts and Nick got bit!
    But I do feel for those Alabama guys- it’s hard to see them so sad!
    But there’s alway next year!!
    Go LSU💜💛💜💛💜💛💜💛💜💛

    Reply
  16. Toni Tucker Locke - January 8, 2019 2:15 pm

    I’m old enough to remember the very short basketball shorts, but I wasn’t old enough when I observed them to appreciate their form-fitting revelations. Kudos to Mother Mary for her appreciative memories!

    Reply
  17. Pat - January 8, 2019 2:15 pm

    hilarious

    Reply
  18. Phylis Adams Otwell - January 8, 2019 2:26 pm

    Hahahahahahaha! I watched the game with my 99 year old mother. Spent much of the game explaining, ” yes, Clemson just scored again. I don’t know what’s wrong with our boys. No, Nick doesn’t look happy. Yes, it’s legal to fake a field goal. ” I feel your pain. Roll Tide.

    Reply
  19. Catherine - January 8, 2019 2:36 pm

    Elderly women are still teenage girls whose bodies have slipped south due to gravity. Oh, and 🅰️🐘🅰️ no matter what‼️

    Reply
  20. Judy Myers - January 8, 2019 2:43 pm

    Thanks Sean for making me smile on this extremely gloomy day. Our team went down but I am trying to take solace in the fact that I am saving hundreds of dollars on National Championship tee shirts, mugs, coozies and Christmas ornaments. ROLL TIDE

    Reply
  21. Karen - January 8, 2019 2:43 pm

    Dang, that game was hard to watch! Clemson played really well, though. Roll Tide, always!

    Reply
  22. Valerie - January 8, 2019 3:01 pm

    Roll Tide till I die!

    Reply
  23. Pat - January 8, 2019 3:36 pm

    Every Alabama fan that is down and out about last night’s game needs to read this. It is hilarious!!!

    “The Lord is my shepard”………………………

    Reply
  24. Edna B. - January 8, 2019 3:40 pm

    Good Lord, I’m still laughing and wiping the tears off my face. God Bless Mother Mary. Yup, I’m up there with her, walker, oxygen and all. You are such a super guy to spend such fun times with her. Sean, you have a wonderful day. Hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  25. Susan S - January 8, 2019 3:58 pm

    Love your stories and especially the comments… as a CLEMSON Alumni I am especially proud of our team today and what they have accomplished. A great legacy for Alabama too as our current and past coaches played there. Go Tigers!!

    Reply
  26. Shelton A. - January 8, 2019 4:01 pm

    Lord, the patience you have. And the love. I don’t know that I would have done as well. At least you were entertained during the slaughter. Roll Tide (from a UNC fan).

    Reply
  27. jeanie Davis - January 8, 2019 4:41 pm

    😂😂I feel your pain ! I am a big Clemson fan and had a friend standing behind me talking about his sinus problems . He almost had worse problems, than sinus , like a strangled neck from a 5ft , 107 lb southern lady . But then I would have missed the game and been in jail ,so I just politely got up and went to another room to watch the game . We had it on in 4 different rooms!
    It was quite a game ,for me ,sorry…
    Jeanie Davis

    Reply
  28. John Brewster - January 8, 2019 5:41 pm

    Mother Mary is a gal I would like to know. Reminds me of my grandmother who lived to 99 in Arkansas. She remembered knowing the family slave when he came back to work after the Civil War. Naturally, she outlived many luminaries like Samuel Clements and others who guys my age think lived in another age. My grandmother also flew in jet aircraft and saw men walk on the moon. I don’t know whether she appreciated basketball shorts, but I do know she was a gracious Southern lady and a blessing to all whose lives she touched.

    Sorry about Bama; Saban got outcoached. He’ll be back!

    Reply
  29. Rebecca - January 8, 2019 6:13 pm

    I read your blog every day …. there’s always a smile there, and this morning I remembered those short basketball shorts, too! Thanks, Sean! (As I’m a quilter, I love there are quilt blocks along side our comments.)

    Reply
  30. Lynn Pappas - January 8, 2019 7:46 pm

    Roll Tide always!

    Reply
  31. Melanie - January 8, 2019 8:40 pm

    always the big A! <3

    Reply
  32. Tricia - January 8, 2019 9:32 pm

    Loved the story Sean. Mother Mary sounds like a sweet lady. Roll Tide. Maybe we will be there again next year!!!!

    Reply
  33. Judy - January 8, 2019 10:21 pm

    Oh Lord have mercy! The funniest one yet!!…. Wish I could have seen those shorts !!

    Reply
  34. Heather Miller - January 8, 2019 11:54 pm

    Hilarious!! We are all Auburn fans, with a granddaughter who loves Clemson. Interesting game; Clemson never lost focus.
    I love Mother Mary! My mother would have had the same amount of interest in any football game. Men’s shorts were always more interesting, whether or not she would admit that fact.

    Reply
  35. Minnie Bourque - January 9, 2019 1:53 am

    She’s right, Sean, they are cute! And my team won last night….I’m a War Eagles’ fan. No Roll Tide in this house. What a quarterback Clemson has! Sure hope he’s around when the Denver Broncos are looking, not that we aren’t looking right now! Just hope we can get him in a couple of years. Hope Saban was ok today. Hard loss for him and all you Roll Tide fans. Was a fun game to watch, though, not a run away as yours usually are. You’ll come back….have no fear! they always do!

    Reply
  36. Stuart - January 9, 2019 4:48 am

    Steady UGA fan and new Clemson fan.
    Anybody but bama.
    Anyhow, how long will Saban have to be in shock therapy?
    😊Enjoy your articles.

    Reply
  37. Steve Winfield - January 9, 2019 1:55 pm

    Does every old person know someone who had to get something cut out of their neck? Is this a law or some fact of nature?

    Reply
  38. 4Dees - January 9, 2019 8:16 pm

    Love that Mother Mary!!!!! She is priceless and precious!! Bless her!

    Reply
  39. Kelly M. Long - January 13, 2019 6:42 am

    Amen, Sean. ROLL TIDE NOW. ROLL TIDE ALWAYS.

    Reply

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