a breakfast serial

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Archive for September 7, 2012

unnecessary roughness

< by Nate >

It was senior year, and I was starting for the football team. Things were going well.

During an early fall day, as I stretched before practice, my offensive line coach waddled past as he always did, weaving in and out of the rows of players.

But on this day, he stopped and asked:

“Hey, how is your uncle?”

“My uncle?” I replied, “Which one?”

He wasn’t sure, mentioning something about my mother — the elementary school’s secretary — leaving earlier in the day to go to the hospital.

I hadn’t heard anything and assumed it wasn’t really that important.

Upon arriving home that night, my father’s truck was in the garage, a strange sight because he worked the night shift. He was sitting in the living room; my mother was nowhere to be found.

I then learned that my uncle, driving his Harley-Davidson Fat Boy to work that morning, had been in an accident. A car pulled out in front of him, sending my uncle over the hood and onto the pavement.

For the next three months, my uncle was in the hospital.

When he moved into my grandparents’ house to begin his recovery, he was a shell of the man I remembered. After seeing him, I sat down at the kitchen counter and wanted to cry.

Over the last nine years, I’ve watched him battle through pain and struggles I can’t even imagine. Over the last nine years, I’ve gotten to truly know my uncle.

I’ve seen him become more engaged in our family, and watched his resolve never waver. He continues to fight to regain the physical abilities I take for granted.

This year, like every year since 2003, gridiron glory pales in comparison to my uncle’s fight and spirit.