Friday evening I was looking at one of the many sites for the Olympics to find out when the opening ceremonies were on and what the schedule was for the other events I was interested in, and as my eye scanned down the page it found and zeroed in on something I had completely forgotten about: the sport that my grandfather judged for over 40 years. I had somehow totally forgotten it was an olympic sport, and when my eye saw it listed there I was unprepared for the waves of grief that washed over me. Within seconds I was sobbing, head cradled in my arms, sitting at my dining room table with my laptop in front of me.
How on earth had I forgotten? For forty years it had taken my grandfather, and later my grandmother, all over the world for meets, to two other continents and to almost every state in the US. It had taken them to two Olympics. They missed my birthday more years than not because the annual convention is always held in late July. Even when my grandfather wasn't judging, which was rare, they followed the sport intently. They used to call us up every time it was on TV, which was a rare occurence, even though most often, especially in our teenage years, we just weren't that interested. They would talk on and on about seeing this person or that person at meets, and after my grandfather died and I had to track down their contact information to notify them, it was as if I knew those people, even though I hadn't "met" them since I was a baby.
I have always watched the Olympics with great enthusiasm. I remember sitting on the floor in the family room at my parents' old house when I was about six, caught up in the excitement and emotion of the games. I remember being upset and angry when we boycotted the summer games in 1980, not clearly understanding why. I have always looked forward to Olympic time, and did so this time with more anticipation than usual, because this is the first Olympics that my older two kids "get" it, understand that they, too, have the potential to do great things in representation of our country if they so have the desire and are willing to put in the hard work to do it.
I guess this demonstrates the lengths to which the mind will go to protect the heart when necessary. I was already missing my grandfather tremendously, and this is the first Olympics where he isn't calling me to tell me that his sport is on and to watch it. I am grateful to my brain for doing what it had to do so that I could look forward to watching with anticipation and not too much pain.
Once again, though he is gone, he is here.
This year, I watch the Olympics with great enthusiasm. I cheer for our team, and revel in the achievement of all the athletes, Americans, allies, or not. Doesn't matter - I just love to watch the amazing things those fit people do with their bodies. I think about the hard work and dedication they all have, that their families all have, and wonder if I could make that kind of commitment, to achieving something like that myself, to helping my kids achieve that. I don't know the answer; my gut says no, I give up too easily, I search for moderation and balance in all aspects of my life. Trout is a daredevil, and I can readily imagine the day she comes to me begging to make the commitment with her to swimming, or ballet, or volleyball, or gymnastics, or fencing, or something or other. I know my grandfather would have said yes, immediately, with no hesitation. I hope that when the time comes, he will give me the courage to say yes.
In the mean time, I'll just continue to be a blubbering mess with every medal ceremony. Michael Phelps just hasn't been good for my emotional state. But he sure is fun to watch.