John was a big Ravens fan. For several years, he’d went to about a game a year with Charlie. I’d never went. It was time for John to go with his buddy and enjoy the game. When Nathaniel was born he of course, got to dress in all the coolest Ravens gear and football was the only thing he was allowed to watch on TV (Yeah… I’m a tough mom, like that.)
Before John was stage IV, but after his stage III diagnosis & successful surgery, he started looking into purchasing PSLs. Honestly, I left the decision up to him. It was A LOT of money in my opinion. But at the same time, can you really put a price on happiness? I tried to not encourage or discourage John from his decision.
For the most part, we kept our finaces separate. He payed the mortgage & I paid the other bills. Occasionally one of us would help the other if necessary. It worked well for us. The horses were on my bill and if he wanted new cycling equipment that was from his paycheck.
John’s enthusiasm for purchasing the PSLs was infectious. It was so nice to see him so excited about them! He excitedly told me about stopping at the stadium on the way home from work. He showed me their location on the internet. He told me how they were under cover & how nice that would be if the weather was bad. John alway did things the right way… and even though the club level tickets were way more expensive, he knew that that would be a way I could enjoy the games. Neither of us were drinkers and neither of us were partiers, so obnoxious drunks weren’t our crowd that we’d choose to hang with. The club level also had nice lounge areas. I remember him telling me how close the bathrooms were. He really had scoped out the place when he went to see the seats.
John was just so excited to buy the PSLs. Financially getting club level seats was out of our league IMO. But at the same time, it was a dream of John’s. I don’t like to be a dream quelcher. John’s enthusiasm was infectious. I tried to remain neutral, but I really did want to see John happy… who doesn’t want to see their spouse happy and excited about something?
Bottom line was that he had to find a way to pay for them. He researched and found that we could get a home equity loan from APGFCU for 3.25%- prime plus zero. Well… that’s hard to beat and we could get the deck that John had been wanting & the horse fence that I’d been wanting for years!!! Getting approved for the loan was a piece of cake and our house actually apraised for way more than we’d expected in the bad economy. We’ve had some friends who have had house values that have fallen, luckily ours had risen considerably.
So, John got the PSLs.
Shortly, after that is when he was diagnosed with stage IV. As things got worse, the rational thing was to sell the PSLs. John knew that, I knew that. He even listed them for sale and offered them to friends. But he didn’t get any good offers and he still had the dream of being well enough to go to the games. It’s hard to give up your dreams and I never wanted John to give up on his dreams. Nobody should ever have to give up on dreams.
So, he kept the PSLs, but once the season tickets came, he offered them for sale. We were going to keep a few early games for ourselves.
This summer, our friend, Charlie, told us that he had a friend who was interested in the PSLs. John knew the rational thing to do was sell, but he was still holding out in hopes that he could beat the cancer. So, John kept the PSLs.
As you know… John didn’t live long enough to use his tickets.
Charlie took on the task of selling games. He told me the pre-season games would be hard to sell for face value & we’d take a big loss on them. I spent several days pondering my options- sell for a loss or go to a game. I decided I wanted to go to a game. John got those tickets for US to go. He picked club level primarily for my comfort & so that when Nathaniel got old enough, it would be a more kid friendly environment. John & I would have been going to the pre-season games & I think he’d still want me to go. So, I decided I wanted to go. I knew it would be hard emotionally, but I felt I had to go.
Now me… I’m a Ravens fan, but I really don’t understand a lot about football. John has been teaching me and I’ve picked up somethings, but I’m far from an expert… more like somebody who could benefit from the “Idiots Guide to Football.”
Charlie & I talked, he has 3 tickets, and then my 2. I wanted to do something nice for Joe, Debbie, & Lumpy who had been so helpful through John’s illness. So, I wanted to invite them to a game. Well… that didn’t end up working as nobody was free for the two pre-season games. I figured that I might as well sell the tickets at a loss & just forget about going to a game.
Charlie was awesome. He said he’d sell his tickets & go with me. His wife, Karen, & daughter, Amanda, would come watch Nathaniel. I can’t thank Charlie enough for doing that for me. Work schedules dictated that we’d have to leave at halftime, but leaving early was better than not going at all.
That day, I was doing fine till I started to get ready. Then the emotions hit. I remembered all of the times when John and I were excited to go somewhere and how we quickly took our showers and got ready to go out. We really didn’t go out very often or very much, I guess that’s what made it more fun… you know, kind of like a dog that gets excited to go on a car ride… lol… Sorry… I’m a dork… always have been… always will be. Anyway, there I am getting a nice shower and then all of a sudden I turn into a wreck– missing John.
I thought… boy this is going to be fun… I’ll be the only Ravens fan in the stadium bawling– I anticipated there’d be plenty of Redskins fans crying after we put a hurting on them…
I pulled myself together, got ready (put on my Team Smitty shirt under the Jersey), put a kleenex in my pocket and got ready to go. John had gotten me a Jersey for Christmas… I felt so special to have my own “real” Ravens gear. John had gotten me McNair.. he didn’t play for the team anymore & it was on clearance…. but I didn’t care. The irony of the that is that then McNair had a tragic death recently and his name popped back up in the news.
Soon the McClouds arrived and I gave instructions on how to care for Nathaniel. He loves the McClouds and knows them, so I wasn’t worried at all.
Charlie & I had a great drive to Baltimore till we got stuck in the traffic. There was a huge line outside of the stadium, but being in club level, we got to go in a special entrance & take an elevator to our seats. I fondly thought of John- first class all the way! He’d told me about those perks. I smiled to myself as we got to our seating area… we walked right by the women’s bathroom that he’d told me about. He’d told me that it was right there by our seats!
Somehow we managed to get there right as the anthem was playing. The seats were just like he’d described them. I remembered how he excitedly had told me about how you could see the big screen so well… he was right. The energy in the stadium just flowed all through your body… I don’t typically go to big events like that… last concert I went to, I was in college… lol… Anyway, it was just cool… a neat experience. Everything seemed amplified… the colors on the field were so crisp & bright. I knew why John wanted the tickets… I understood… I got it.
I could have lost it at that point, but instead, I focused on just having fun! Like I said, I could benefit from the “Idiot’s guide to Football.” Charlie helped keep me in the loop. I took some pics and just enjoyed being there and enjoyed the game. Early on, one of the guys sitting next to us tripped bringing a drink back to his seat. We ended up wearing his beverage… I had two thoughts. 1. Boy John wouldn’t have been happy. & 2. I haven’t had a beer spilled on me since going to hockey games at ISU. lol No worries… we were fine & the next time the guys wanted a drink they got the waitress to bring it to them… lol… By the time we left after half time the score was 13-0. The game ended 23-0. I know it’s only pre-season, but it’s good to win! Flacco even played a little bit… when John went to the game last season, a lot of people told him he looked like Flacco… so, I had to smile remembering that memory. He always said he couldn’t see it. I don’t know… they both were tall, with dark hair that was cut close.
Before we left, I stopped at the souvenieer stand & picked up two things for John. Wonder how many people buy souvineers for the deceased at Ravens games? Oh well… John’s special! I looked at the Ravens kids wear, but WOW… talk about pricey… guess Nathaniel will have to wait till I find something on sale!
The drive home went quickly. Nathaniel was in bed sound asleep. I felt bad for Karen & Amanda because the digital TV only picks up a few channels & the DVD player isn’t hooked up. Something about old TV & not enough connections. I hope they weren’t too bored.
So, I really did have a good time and I managed to think fondly of John rather than breakdown missing him. I was quite proud of myself. But, I know if I had lost it, Charlie would have taken care of me. It’s good to have friends like that… who are there for you when you need it… THANKS again, Charlie!!! Most of the games have been sold… just a few games left. Charlie suggested that I go to one more game, so we’ll see. I think I’d like to 🙂
As a “nonsports-fan” who can appreciate what you described, I am glad you got into and had fun, and “got it”. John would be proud! You lived in the color and spirit and moment of it and that is what he would want, Mary – and ya made me laugh about the ISU hockey beer memory too…