When the baton is passed to you

Normally preseason for the NFL is to be endured until the season starts. Normally the first preseason game isn’t two days after the six month anniversary of my dad’s death. Normally I go with my dad and brother-in-law, Del.

I think you can guess last week wasn’t normal.

The Broncos have been big in our family’s story because they were big in my dad’s life before there even was a family and he invited each of us into the story line. But the story has grown in importance because this was taken at the AFC championship before we knew how close the end was.

Dad and D

And then each of the girls made “High five for Denver” signs for the Super Bowl, decorating his hospital room.

High five for Denver

During the Super Bown was the last meal he ate — cooked meat my sister brought in and popcorn. The next day he was moved to hospice and two days later he died.

The stories have blended together.

Del wasn’t able to go to the game last Thursday so I asked one of my nieces. 

Being a pre-griever, it was a teary week. How was it I last entered the stadium with my dad and now I would go with “the next generation?” How is it that stories continue, though they morph and change? How is it that time both stops and moves on?

I used to be the little hand being held in the big hand and now I’m the big hand holding the little hand. 

Do you want to know when I felt the baton was handed to me? As is often the case, it was a small, unassuming moment that would have been missed to the naked eye. But I felt the weight of it. The baton was handed to me when I tore the tickets off and got the bag ready for the game. Even when I hadn’t gone to games with Dad, he tore the tickets and made sure I knew were they were.

I cried driving over to Niece #2’s house. Del and Elizabeth were outside waiting because this isn’t a story about football, football is our context, this is a story about life and family and traditions and batons being handed off. More tears. And I told #2 I was so glad she was coming with me, but I might cry because I miss Grandpa.

To get to the light rail to go to the game, we passed the hospital and the ER where we took Dad. Again, feeling the weight as the stories have become entwined.

But at we rode the light rail and were around other fans and I told #2 stories of what we’d see, and do, and where Grandpa, and Dad, and Grandma, and Mom and Aunts had done this or that, I also felt the joy of a story continuing. Of it not dying out, but living on. Taking new forms and involving new members. This is no longer just Grandpa’s story, it’s now hers too.

And though there was a severe weather delay and FAR FAR FAR too many penalty flags, it was a night we will all remember. A night that will later join in the retelling of stories.

National AnthemScoreboardWith #2
And at the end of it, I asked her if I could take a picture of our shadow because I had taken one with Grandpa. He was good about humoring me experimenting with photos and for some reason I just love this one. It captures my dad’s patience and love for his family.


And what I love is she leaned in and with the roar of the game in the background, we made a stone of remembrance.

With K at game

This is bigger than football, it’s a story about history and connection and family and legacy.

I used to joke that August was the birthday gauntlet for our family, starting with Mom’s (which was Friday), then Laura’s, a nieces, and ending with Dad’s. This year, it will be a memory gauntlet too. We have felt the love and support and are grateful for you.


Football is part of our family story. What’s part of yours? When has a baton been passed to you?


  1. Music is our muse. I am so very glad that my parents let us have our own toy band instruments as kids-sure the banging and clanging wasn’t always melodious but it allowed the three of us learn what rhythm is, catch the beat and develop the natural talents we were given. My dad’s tuba was a staple in our house-he would let us try to blow into it and make sounds as little people and then he led us into learning about controlling our breath and using the valves to create melody. My mum was always singing, clapping to help with beat/syncopation and teaching us various techniques to help us with our vocal range/register and breathing patterns. It led us into playing in church & school bands, playing piano, playing the tambourine (me), becoming vocal soloists and chorus members.

    As I watch my niece and nephews experiment with their musical abilities, it is joy to see them play scales on their instruments, sing and learn how to dance.Can’t wait to see/hear where Elsie, James, Spencer and Lucas venture into along their musical journeys :)

  2. Del Smith says:

    Great Post! It made me cry.


    • Thanks Del! I know how very much Dad loved you and you loved him. I’m thankful you had so many years of Broncos games with him too! :) Amy

  3. This made me cry. You are doing your dad proud.
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  4. Mark Allman says:

    I do believe family built traditions are great. We have some in my family that I hope continue long after I am gone. I think the traditions help aid remembering great times associated with them. Sometimes we mark life according to big occasions but it is the great little moments that bring so much joy at times. Moments into memories into joy.

    • Mark,

      I love your last line! Moments into memories into joy. YEs, that is it! It’s not about traditions for the sake of tradition, but as you said, but the remembering and connection that goes on with it! Knowing the kind of person you are, I have no doubt you’re leaving a legacy that WILL live on through your kids (and future grandkids)! You’re even leaving your mark on me and others who ready your comments!

      Amy :)

  5. Mark Allman says:

    I know your dad would be proud of you.

  6. Donna Brown says:

    I read your post in Michelle’s blog . I am a misfit also, but that is ok with me. Our family has a rich football history that involves Auburn University. We do not worship our team, but being on that campus is almost a worshipful experience as we remember the price our parents paid to send us there. I remember my dad taking us to at least one game per year.. My sister and I loved those times. We pass that history on.. It is a part of the memory that God has given us.

  7. Bev Howard says:

    As I read your post I remembered my mom. She was injured at a young age when she was hit by a car. Although she went gave birth to my brother and me, she lost much of her independence on the day of that accident. As she became older she lived with my grandparents. When they passed away the “baton” of her care was passed to me. Most of my life she seemed like an older sibling than my mom but strangely when she became my “baton” I began to look more as a mother. So over the next 20 plus years our relationship changed and grew. She had a wonderful sense of humor and a kindness for the people who waited on her. Such as waitress, cashiers etc. She always had a kind word for my daughters as well. I really loved that about my mom. Her lovely smile and sweet laugh. She lived on a very restricted income so Christmas gift buying was an experience. She LOVED giving gifts and with a restricted income, well you can imagine how that went. Anyway, when ever I have any extra money I give to someone who lives in a care center, or seems a bit short on money so they can have lunch out or whatever. I give in memory of my mom, my daughters do the same. AND she was a HUGE Cincinnati Red’s fan! So every chance I get my grandson gets a Red’s T Shirt and my family remembers “little Grandma’s love of all things Red’s” God Bless and thank you for sharing your story and letting me share mine.

  8. Thank you for deeply touching my “grieving-my-Dad-but-receiving-some-similar-unexpected-joys” heart today, Amy. And I thank God, also. Amazing.

  9. Amy L. (formerly F.) ^_^ says:

    You are carrying on his light, dear one. HUG!

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