Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sometimes you punt

Sometimes on rainy afternoons I think back to this story.

I can't remember who I heard telling this tale (I want to say it was John Majors), but it goes back to the golden age of college football, sometime in the 1950s, when quick kicks were still in fashion.

Tennessee's football team wasn't able to move the football at all on this particular Saturday afternoon. The team they were playing (it was either Georgia Tech or Texas A&M) was too tough. Best team in the country.

Finally, Coach Bowden Wyatt started calling for quick kicks. Punts on third down. (Can you imagine that today?) But it worked. The Vols played for field position and was able to hang on and win, I think by a field goal.

Last night, I was feeling worse than I have in a long time. This weekend was supposed to be a great one. And it turned out to be even better than I imagined. Just didn't happen quite like I thought.

Thursday night after work, I drove up to Union County to have dinner with Marvin and Sarah West. Marvin is the best sportswriter to ever grace the pages of a Knoxville newspaper. (Don't tell him I said this, but he's one of the best in the country, too.) Sarah is one of those human beings you feel grateful just to know.

Marvin and Sarah have the kind of relationship I hope I have one day. They finish each other's sentences. He leaves her little notes all over the house saying "I love you." He helps her fix dinner. They've been in love for 52 years and counting.

The evening held the promise of enjoying Sarah's cooking, tales from Marvin about his 42 years with the E.W. Scripps Company, and watching the Devil Rays/Yankees game on Marvin's satellite.

But before we could even sit down to dinner, I was in the floor, writhing in pain. I thought I was dying at first. Turns out, it's just a kidney stone.

Marvin and Sarah drove me home. Strike one on my plans.

Yesterday, I spent the day doped up on painkillers. Wanted to go to the doctor, but he was out for the day. So they prescribed me medicine, told me to drink plenty of liquids and just pass the thing.

This means missing out on a trip to Atlanta to see the Eastern Division showdown between the Mets and Braves. And it meant missing work, something I don't enjoy when you love your job like I do. Strike two.

My friends called to check on me yesterday (bless you John, Allison, Dean and Linds). Brian Hornback, of "Brian's Blog" fame, also called last night, as did Charles Davenport and John Hitt. I feel pretty blessed.

Then the pain got worse. I can't tell you how bad this feels if you've never had one. My mom says her kidney stones hurt more than natural childbirth if that tells you anything.

I let it all get to me. Felt helpless, which I do not like feeling. Wanted somebody to be here.

You toss and turn. Can't get comfortable enough to go to sleep. Start feeling worthless.

Dread getting up in the morning cause, kidney stone or no, you still gotta meet your deadline. You wish you could just get up, feel fine, and go on to work tomorrow. You don't want anybody having to cover for you. The perfectionist in you doesn't like not being able to deliver.

You also want to go on to the Braves game on Sunday and enjoy your weekend. And get depressed because you know you can't.

You feel worthless. You want to talk. You hate to admit it, but you just want somebody to hold your hand. Nobody's there.

I remember the Majors story. "Just punt the ball."

So I do. Oh, wait, a friend from Ohio is online. She tells you to hang in there. Makes you feel better.

Finally, about 3 a.m. I drift off to sleep.

I sleep late. Don't feel too good. Finally wake up at 11. Stumble in front of the computer to do my work.

Darned if here isn't an e-mail that makes your day so much, you can't stop smiling.

The pain goes away long enough for you to file your story. It may not win a Pulitzer, but you're proud of it. It's all about dreaming dreams, positive influences and smiling. You send in the story just before the pain comes back. See, there, you made it after all.

The phone rings. It's a friend. They call just to cheer you up. Get you laughing. You feel like a million bucks. Then another friend calls. And another. And still another.

Yeah, you're not feeling well at all this afternoon, but once you pass the stone, it will all be over. You take your medicine, remember the guy down the street who died recently from cancer, and thank God for your kidney stone and, yes, for the pain. Cause it could be much, much worse.

You remember the song your friend played for you yesterday afternoon and you smile. You flip on the TV. Hey, the Tigers are beating the Minnesota Twins, 11-0. Life is good.

It's amazing what happens when you just let go. Your dreams may not come true today. Things may just not pan out like you'd hoped. But chances are they'll be better than you ever imagined tomorrow.

It all comes together, even if things looked bleak a minute before. Next time you get the ball, you might score the winning field goal.

But sometimes, in order to get there, you just gotta punt.

3 Comments:

Blogger Brian Hornback said...

Jake,

I am glad you were up and able to finish the story. I am glad your feeling a little better.

The thought of John Majors, makes me want to go to the Goodwill store and buy a plaid sportcoat, for old times sake.

3:54 PM  
Blogger TheRep said...

Jake,
I hope you are up to full speed soon.

Stacey Campfield

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you're feeling better...I know someone who would hold your hand...He holds mine on some really hard days. All you gotta do is say:

Jesus, hold my hand
I need thee every hour
Through this pilgrim land
Protect me by thy power
Hear my feeble plea
Dear Lord, look down on me
When I kneel in prayer
I hope to meet you there
Precious Jesus hold my hand

9:02 AM  

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