A ball, a phone, and a dad

Kansas Jayhawks athletic logo

Image via Wikipedia

I’m participating in a “blog carnival.” In case you are new to the concept, as I was less than twenty four hours ago, in a blog carnival a word or topic is given. Anyone who wants can post on the topic, creating quite the range of writings. The word for this one is “madness.”

While it seems that many other bloggers think of madness in terms of craziness or anger, the first thing that came to mind was March Madness. I might be influenced by the season. But truth be told, most likely the association would be just as strong at other times of the year.

A bit of context will help. As I considered when to come to China, I told God that I would know it was a sign I was to go when the Kansas Jayhawks won a national championship AND the Denver Broncos Won the Super Bowl. It’s not that I didn’t want to be in China, it’s just that I didn’t want to miss out on such wonderful events! God, in his understated way, let me know that sports were not going to be the way I would decide major events in my life. My bags were packed and I moved to Chengdu, Sichuan with neither a national championship nor Super Bowl title.

When I first came to China, the internet didn’t exist. I lived in a guest house and the only phone was at the front desk, shared by all. The day a phone was put into the hallway where we foreigners lived, that day. Oh that day.  It’s hard to express the sense of delight, privacy, convenience, and connection wrapped up in one small phone. The simple pleasure of being able to sit on a folding chair when we got a rare call from a loved one, there is nothing like it.

That first March my dad called and read the entire bracket to me. If you are unfamiliar with March Madness, there are sixty four teams invited and divided into four groups. He would literally go through all 32 matchups and discuss their rankings with me, who was favored, who was hot, and who was not. Those days, phone calls were not cheap, but he knew how I missed it.

Basket ball plus

A phone call plus

Talking to someone so very far away about something so dear, to quote a commercial, priceless.

The next week he’d call back and go over the wins, losses, and upsets.  I sat on the red folding chair, freezing in the unheated hallway, hunched over my pieces of paper, updating them as we talked. Cheering when Duke lost. Sad when the Jayhawks were out.

Marveling that these pieces of paper connected me to a land I missed, a game I adore, and a man I love. I was still happily living life to the fullest in China, but for a brief time, I was transported to another part of me.

You can see why “madness” reminds me of sports regardless of the time of year. Not surprisingly, there are other special sports memories.  The word for the next carnival is memory so check back to see how far one friend was willing to go for me and our mutual love of KU hoops.

What is something someone has done for you that might appear like madness to others, but not to you? 

Comments

  1. I ran my first mini-marathon in 2009. My brother had encouraged me to do it, and I knew it would be a good challenge. However, I never went over 7 miles in my training. Knowing me…I didn’t want to waste a good entrance fee so I decided to run it anyway.

    My brother, Chris, came to cheer me on and I saw him at three points along the way. Point 1 – I was confident
    Point 2 – I was in pain
    Point 3 – I was .5 miles away from the finish and unsure if I could keep going

    Seeing my pain, he didn’t hesitate. In his jeans and sweatshirt, he jumped across the line, joined the crowd and ran with me for the next quarter of a mile. He looked crazy…I know people thought he was mad…but I didn’t care. Without his voice saying, “You can do it. Just take another step, and another, and another” I wouldn’t have finished. His madness led me to one of my greatest victories.

  2. Ha. Good ol’ March Madness. I’m from North Carolina, so college basketball is a pretty big deal down here. I have good memories of gathering around to watch the finals as a kid. It’s cool that you’ve found joy in such small pleasures!

    • If you’re a Tarheel fan, I love Roy and Wanda Williams! I taught their kids when they lived in Lawrence and were so impressed with them as parents.

  3. Well Amy, your blog reminded me of the Madness in ’88 watching the games together in your room at Lewis Hall and then going down on campus to be crazy with the rest of the KU student population. Then I was taken to 2008 when we were in the championship game again….this time you were watching on the internet and I was at home watching the game. Your internet started to slow down so you called and I gave you a play by play commentary of the game. That was so much fun. I can also remember living in Scotland back in the early 90’s calling my Mom at something like 4:30 am just to get the score of the tournament game….forgetting the time difference and waking her up.

    • And being at Buckingham Palace with you when the 1st round draft picks for the NBA came out — I think it was in the USA today that we saw Mark Randall was a first round draft pick! Good, good times. I love that even though we live miles apart, many of these memories are shared. Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Go KU!

  4. Cynthia says:

    Oh, to relive the days when you could call me in my guesthouse room in Nanchong but I had to go to the campus post office to make any outside calls. Those little unlit telephone boxes (oops, I mean booths) became a haven of laughter, joy and love.

    Madness has come in many forms… but two stick in my mind most:
    1) The year my mum had “Christmas in July,” so that I could celebrate with everybody while I was visiting from China. She made turkey, we decorated the Christmas tree and exchanged presents. It is one of my favourite memories.

    2) My friend Lisa has an extreme fear of heights and decided she needed to get over it. So Lisa, me and Lisa’s sister (Maureen) decided to to the CN tower charity climb for WWF. We trained for two months to climb the CN Tower-Canada’s tallest free standing builiding. On the day of the climb, we started with lots of confidence but halfway up Lisa started to lose it. She told us to “leave the deadwood,” but Maureen and I started telling jokes the rest of the way up (which was 80 floors). When we reach the top, we didn’t have champagne to celebrate with so we used water.

  5. I’m not a big sports fan, HOWEVER, your family and mine would have been fuming over the games. The UNL Huskers. Especially football, of course, not basketball. I wasn’t raised in this area, so college sports wasn’t quite as high on the intensity of our state. MY HEAVENS! Sometimes drove me nuts! The best part? I could go shopping on Saturday or other days and times during the games and not have to battle a crowd. [Had to leave my kids home, though, because they were very ready to explode if something special happened and I had forced them to be at the mall or grocery store with me.]

    Another funny one for you: When I was in Uganda the last time [’03-’04], walking through the downtown area of a mid-sized town bush town, I entered a store and the clerk/owner had on one of your sports shirts. Also, a Cornhusker shirt nearby. Who’d a thought of that? Made me grin and feel right at home.

    Have wanted to be in China for about 40 years. Ain’t gonna happen. Hope you are blessed beyond belief.

    I realize this doesn’t have any truism responses to your post, which was very good, but couldn’t help but explode the familiarity or our locations. Pleasant surprise.

    • Pleasant surprise indeed! I love hearing others’ stories and can just picture the empty stores on Saturday…if you were playing KU, everyone was in Lawrence! It was always a bit unnerving how “red” the city became!

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  1. […] question appeared as a challenge on Amy’s blog.  Go to The Messy Middle to read the original story.  I loved the challenge so much that I brought my story back to my […]

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