Monday, March 05, 2007

Play Hurt

Our last game of the season was during the second weekend of February vacation while we were in Philadelphia bonding with ancient Egyptians. Last year the game had been the first weekend in March which was much better since everyone was back from vacation. According to the dad who helped me out, only four of our 11 team members showed up.

I'm actually glad we missed the last game. While I got much more out of this year's team (because I was a much better coach) I didn't want to face the last game this year. During our final game of 2006, my dad was watching. While having a heart attack.

Of course, I rationalized his distraught looks. I thought he was utterly horrified that after 3 months these kids still couldn't dribble, pass or shoot. One kid could consistently hit 3-pointers but he ran down the court like a running back. He was the only player who could make a basket.

My other rationalization was that he was completely dismayed that his child was such a lousy coach. My dad played basketball in high school and briefly in college. He coached both my and my brother's childhood teams. He had season tickets to the town team for years.

At one point during that last game in March one of my 5-year-old players came up to me whimpering he had hurt himself. I then said something I thought would never, ever come out of my mouth.

"Play hurt."

I said "play hurt" to a 5-year-old. He looked at me with opened mouth shock. But he turned around and played. I remembered my own open mouth shock when my dad said it to me as a 3rd grader on one of the downstairs courts of the high school gym. I vowed never to say that. And here I did.

So as we were going back to our cars, my dad panting as he was carrying the 30+ pound granddaughter, I told him my horror at saying to the little guy "play hurt". His response was a half-hearted laugh. He was, foolishly, playing the ultimate hurt.

He drove home the 10 miles back to his house (recently a beloved state representative died after her car crashed while she was having a heart attack). He went to the couch to "rest". Finally my perceptive mother called him on his symptoms and got him to the hospital. My brother flew over from the other coast. Five days later he had triple bypass surgery.

This weekend my dad spent time bonding with their new dog, monitoring his basement for flooding and attending church. He is still very much part of our family. And we are all so glad.


Jenn said...

He is lucky.

And you and your kids are even more lucky. I'm glad for all of you.

Kate said...

That's great that he survived.

That's a nice story - and that's not so rough telling the kid to play hurt. I probably would have done the same. It's all about character building, right?

So how did they play with only 4 players this year?

chelle said...

Wow ... that was a huge life lesson! Amazing story so glad your Dad was ok!

Jenn in Holland said...

Incredible post. I love the way you weave the real and the metaphorical together.
I also love that your Dad is okay.

Amy Barry said...

Hope your Dad is still doing well! How scary!!