—I'm not sure if anyone is as big a fan of Irish football as me, but if there is it would be my dad or my son. But as much as my son John and I love the Fighting Irish, this year is clearly dedicated to my father, for it very well may be his last. Thus begins my chronicles of 2014 Irish football, as week to week I try to figure out whether dad is saving Notre Dame, or Notre Dame my dad, or both.
The Doc said Dad's esophageal cancer is spreading fairly slowly, which means there's a good chance he could make it through the holidays, which for Irish fans includes not only Christmas and New Years but the season ending Notre Dame bowl game. But when you're 84 and in constant pain, will is also a big factor, and dad's will to live was recently summed up by two recent seemingly contradictory statements. The first, made in obvious distress, was that he had made his peace and was ready to see Jesus. The second was that he was happy to see Irish QB Everett Golson back, and he was looking forward to the upcoming season.
Now to the believing Catholic or Irish fan, those statements aren't necessarily contradictory; for who among us true Fighting Irish faithful haven't declared, after a stunning Irish comeback, that dearly departed Domer so and so was (in cahoots with Our Lady) pulling some strings up in heaven concerning that victory? Still, as dad made his statement about the Prodigal Quarterback whose Academic and ethical decisions banished him from the team for the 2013 season, he was looking at me like he meant to be watching the games, if not upright, at least next to his son as he had for oh so many years.
And, although Dad's statement about the upcoming season sure makes it look like the Fighting Irish are helping to keep my dad alive, I'm not so sure that my dad's suffering and prayers are not going to be more important at turning the boys back into Our Lady's Lads, the heroes of every Catholic boy in the country before Modernism (in this case, the Land o' Lakes manifesto) came to Notre Dame. So as my team attempts to stay alive for the National Championship, and my father just tries to stay alive, stay tuned to my weekly updates (or better yet, attuned by joining the Suffering Irish) as see what both have in store for the other. But whatever happens, expect miracles, for the only thing I can guarantee you is that Our Lady is not only watching, but praying for a miracle too.
P.S. This post was written before the (latest) Notre Dame Football academic scandal broke, so Dad's reaction (and my own) will be dealt with on my next post. Safe to say, while my father is none to happy about the scandal, he's proud to have a son who is fighting to bring Notre Dame back to Her...