Driving home from work at the end of a long week, I knew exactly what I would be doing. I would review my son’s homework folder, get dinner ready for my family, and WATCH THE OLYMPICS. Not that I care about the fanfare — or many of the sports. I watch because that is what my mom and I did every four years before she died in 2002.
Two Reginas: Mother and daughter
Back then, the entire world stopped for us this time of year. Friends called either of us and we’d say, “Sorry. I can’t talk. We’re watching the Olympics.” Basically, we cut ourselves off from the rest of the society for two weeks.
And WE LOVED IT.
The Opening Ceremonies were either “beautiful” or “tacky” — no in-between — but we always imagined the pride felt by the athletes as they marched into Olympic Stadium.
Years ago, when the Olympics were shown “live,” we stayed up, bleary-eyed, to watch our favorite events. Figure skating was sacred to us, and I think we actually started to believe that we were smarter than the judges.
“What are you people, nuts?” one of us would yell. “He didn’t deserve that score! Didn’t you see him wobble on the landing of that triple salchow? You morons.”
We kept a running total of how many medals the U.S.A. was winning, watching the numbers the way investors watch stocks.
“Hey Mom, we went up by two!”
“Gold is better than silver, but it still counts!”
As the Olympics would come to a close, we shared in the exhaustion and relief of the athletes as if we were competing right alongside them. At the Closing Ceremonies, we sat and giggled at the antics of OUR athletes (because we thought of them as belonging to us). Some seemed giddy with excitement. Others looked bombed.
After Mom died, I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Games. It was just too painful. I’d try to get my husband to watch.“I’m not interested in that stuff,” he said. “I’ll watch the news and find out who won what.”More recently, I worked on my 7-year-old son: “Mikey, the Olympics are AWESOME. Watch with me.”
Him: “This stuff is boring.”
What a letdown.
This year, I’m strong enough watch it alone. I’ll snuggle up in bed with my coffee, feeling the mixed emotions of pride for the athletes and of heartache at the loss of one hell of a lady.
But, I know if I listen hard enough, I just might hear a voice say, “That jerk would’ve won if he did a quad.”
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