I didn’t grow up watching football. Neither of my parents really cared much about it and my brothers didn’t play. I went to a lot of games in high school and college, but it was never about the game. It was a social event for me. It’s where the people were, so it’s where I went.
Then I married Vance. The Crutchfield are much more of a sports family than mine have ever been. They watched football all weekend, every weekend, from August until February. Fridays were for high school. Saturdays for college and Sundays for the NFL.
We established pretty early on that we spent Thanksgiving with that side of the family. That meant the Macy’s parade in the morning and the Cowboys game after lunch. And the Lions game, too. It was a given that there was a game on all fall and into the winter months.
Glenda, my mother-in-law is a pretty hard core Cowboys fan. She really tried to get her kids to follow suit, but once they moved to Kansas, Vance started cheering for the Chiefs. Try as she might, she never could get him to root for her boys in blue. He was red through and through.
This season, for the first time in 50, the Chiefs not only went to the Super Bowl, they won the whole thing.
Originally, I had planned to take my kids to a party where we could all watch together. Honestly, even with twenty plus years as a Crutchfield, I still don’t really like or understand football. (Please don’t hate me. I love me some baseball!) It’s still a social thing for me, so I was planning to just socialize.
Then, as the big game got closer, things just started to, well…feel off. I didn’t really want to go anywhere. The kids all ended up different places, surrounded by friends or family and I ended up at home, alone. I wasn’t going to even watch the game. But I’m in Kansas and this year, LIV was a big deal around here. So, fifteen minutes or so after it started, I turned on the TV. I made myself some cheese dip, sat on the couch and watched the game.
I cried for the entire first half and it had nothing to do with the score.
I just remembered how excited Vance had been when the Royals won the pennant. He’d stayed up late night after night watching the games and cheering so loudly. SO LOUD! That was the thing about watching games with Vance. He was loud. Almost always positive, but always, always so dang loud. He’d jump up, pump his fist in the air and yell, “YES!” when his team made a play. This. This Super Bowl run. It would have made his year. He would have loved it.
Sometime during the game or maybe the half-time show, I started going through pictures and putting them together in one album on Facebook. I’ve wanted them in one place for a while and the time seemed right. So I started looking. First at, just a photo of Vance in his football uniform, posted by his mom, who was also missing him that day. But then others. Pics of us, our kids, our families. Us together.
There aren’t a lot of pictures of Vance alone. He loved his people and he was always the one with a kid on his lap. He loved holding hands and physical touch in general. It was by far, his primary love language and it’s obvious when you look at pictures of his life that he loved well.
For the rest of the game, I watched the TV and in his honor, yelled at it when plays were made. I have picked up a few things about football through the years, so I mostly know enough to cheer at the right times now. With the final touchdown, I may have jumped up and pumped my fist in the air myself. I could hear his deep voice and see him smiling even though I was alone in my living room.
The Chiefs won it all this season. This first one without Vance. He woulda been so stinkin’ excited.