In the early 90s I was hooked on the show Quantum Leap. Seeing time as a line, the main character could time travel when the line bent and touched another date; so if today and November 7, 1964 touched, he would suddenly find himself surrounded by poodle skirts or whatever the fashion was in 1964.
This year, Sunday is our quantum leap.
It is Super Bowl Sunday.
It is also the third anniversary of the death of Tom Young.
All the Super Bowls involving the Broncos.
The last week of his life.
The last three years.
They all oddly mix and merge and will touch each other on Sunday.
I say oddly because . . . even though it has been three years and he had Hep C for decades, death is still odd. We are no longer in shock, but I don’t know if we will ever be familiar with death. That begin said, three years out is far enough to see that the anchor of love and relationship really is deep enough to hold the test of time.
My first Super Bowl Sunday was January 15, 1978 when a certain team from Texas beat the Broncos. Dad, Mom, and Aunt Bobbye were in New Orleans cheering on the Broncos and growing wearing of the Dallas ladies in full-length fur coats making fun of the “hicks” from Colorado. My sisters and I were not abandoned to fend for ourselves, as Grandma and Grandpa Young stayed with us.
I won’t go Super Bowl by Super Bowl, but you can see how footfall and family are woven together. Jumping forward to his last Super Bowl, the 2013 AFC Championship game in Denver is the last active memory Del and I have of doing something with Dad (after that most of the memories involve hospitals). I think Dad used so much of his energy to be there with us. I also know this, if you were to ask him if it was worth it, with he would just give you one of his famous “beaky looks.” Silly question, of course it was worth it.
But then two weeks later, have said goodbye to Laura as she flew home—we thought we had more time—he ate his last meal of pulled pork and popcorn. Elizabeth made both and brought them to the hospital. Football and family. The game was humiliating and awful, but because he was dying, no one rubbed our faces in it and we didn’t really care.
And then on Wednesday, he died.
This Sunday, around 2:00, we can’t help but remember his death, it is part of our Quantum Leap. On that February 5th, we had an appointment scheduled with the mortuary because his time was drawing near. We discussed who would go to the appointment and who would stay with Dad and then we realized, “This is silly! These moments are precious.” The meeting was cancelled and we all stayed.
And this is how everyone should die, surrounded by their loved ones, having lived a rich and broad life, and on a numerically interesting time (2:22, in his case).
On Sunday afternoon, we will remember how we went to Elizabeth’s house to be there before the girls got home from school. As they entered the house, each face registered a brief moment of shock. What are you all doing here? And then you could see it hit them. No, no, as they buried their faces in a parent’s chest.
But at 4:30? We will remember last year! Woot, woot! Laura had flown out to Denver so we could all watch the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers. When we gather and the subject of the Broncos comes up, the stories take on their own quantum leaps as we jump from this year to that. We recall this funny or annoying thing one of us did.
What I have learned in this third year of his present absence is that the story will continue. I have written before about the down side of doing your good deeds in private; when you die, all of your stuff comes out because you are no longer your main PR person. What I had not factored in is that more always exists to learn. It may just be a nugget, but those nuggets? Pure gold.
I’ve mentioned how my dad never met a piece of paper he didn’t want to keep forever. At first this annoyed me, but now I’m grateful because it allows us to continue to know him. Recently I have been going through and shredding every tax document he ever touched. People. we are talking all the way back to before he even knew my mom. Want to see the instructions for filing taxes in 1972? I can hook you up.
Over and over, Tom Young proved himself faithful to his family and the non-profits he supported. I was reminded afresh how he quietly did what was right over the long haul. He was willing to accurately report what needed to be reported, but if he was told he owed money he didn’t owe, he was willing to document and involve legal help to support him. (He was the trustee to at least four of his aunts and uncles, so taxes could get a little complex.)
I am humbled and blessed because of the quietly consistent choices he and Mom made to set their children up for adulthood.
So, this Sunday our Quantum Leap touches on football and family; I can’t say I’ll be watching the same game you all will. Instead, I think I’ll watch last year’s game.
We will gather as a family and as the day passes and certain times come and go, we will be transported in time.
Dad, we still think of you often, talk of you regularly, and see your influence in the world. We miss you and love you. I think those constants will remain no matter how much time passes.
And to you, my reader. Grief is no longer as sharp and she offers gifts I don’t always want to receive; yet one of her gifts is you. This community and the ways you bear this loss with me and with us, even offering your own losses, helps us to bear it. Thank you. Amy for all Youngs, Smiths, and Purdies
Winner of Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk has been notified. Thanks all :).