Those of you who know me, know that I am really not a college football fan. I realize that it is a mortal sin for an Alabama native not to bleed either crimson or orange, but I truly remain indifferent. My dad, however, loved Alabama football. For the past several years, Iron Bowl Saturday takes me back to a day spent with him in 2013...
During the last couple of years of Dad's life, it became a part of our routine to go to the emergency room every 8-10 weeks with Dad experiencing signs of pneumonia. It became so commonplace, that I knew the ER personnel at South Baldwin from the courteous young man who worked the check-in desk to the nurses and doctors who cared for the patients. I knew to dress warmly and where the heated blankets were kept. We would be in the ER several hours while blood work was done and O2 sats were monitored waiting for a room to open so that he could be admitted. One of the more memorable ER trips took place on November 30, 2013. For most people, that date is really not significant, but if you are an Auburn or Alabama fan, you remember that day either with great joy or utter disbelief.
We had been in the ER for several hours before the game started, so Dad was starting to get a bit grumpy and tired...patience was not his strength. Thankfully, there was a TV in Dad's treatment area, and when the game started, I was grateful for the distraction to keep him occupied watching the game as we waited for a room. Many of the staff were wearing the jerseys of their alliance and the ER was quite raucous as the game went on. Toward the end of the third quarter, we were told that a room was available, and we would be going upstairs soon. I was relieved; it had been a long afternoon. I knew that there still several hours to go to get dad settled in his room before I could get some rest and be back the next day.
Dad's gurney was met at the door of his hospital room by a young male nurse wearing an Alabama jersey...he even had the TV in the room tuned to the game and was watching as he waited our arrival. This is the staff member who would review Dad's meds and history with me while entering all the data in his computer (remember I really know the drill). He was in good spirits as Alabama was leading the game 28-21. But, it went downhill from there. Dad and I were tired. I was cold and hungry. I knew that we were in for several long days ahead of us before Dad would be able to go home and that I would have to work hard to keep his spirits up. I was ready to finish this last task so that Dad and I could both get some rest. However, the nurse was having a really hard time concentrating while the game played on the screen above his head. With less than a minute remaining in the game, Auburn ties the score. The nurse is having more and more trouble staying on task. With seven seconds left in the game and Alabama's player running the ball, he is either knocked out of bounds or steps out of bounds depending on who you are for. The game is called a tie as time runs out, but Nick Saban argues the call and has one second added to the clock. Now it really gets interesting and our nurse has totally forgotten about documenting Dad's history. Rather than take a knee and go to overtime, Alabama attempts to win the game with a 57-yard field goal...and the rest is history...
As Auburn's Chris Davis catches the short kick and runs it across the field to win the game, Dad's nurse turns pale, pushes the computer cart away and walks out of the room without saying a word. Dad and I are left to look at each other not quite sure what we just witnessed...both the end of the game and the nurse's behavior. He returns about 15 minutes later with no explanation other than he just needed some time to compose himself.
In any other state on that Saturday night, I might have been really upset with that nurse. But this is Alabama and football makes people just a bit crazy...so I get it. I may not be a fan, but I get it.
Roll Tide...or War Eagle!
***Thanks to Wikipedia for helping me with the game technicalities and to Carol Foret for painting the perfect image for this blog.