Even though I didn’t get to see my nephews play football as we’d planned, I still made them put on their football gear so I could get a photo. I love my Chargers and am cheering them on even when I’m not in the stadium.
Even though I didn’t get to see my nephews play football as we’d planned, I still made them put on their football gear so I could get a photo. I love my Chargers and am cheering them on even when I’m not in the stadium.
With my sister living in southern Iowa and my brother living in Mankato, it is rarely possible to go to my nieces' and nephews' school programs or athletic events. If my parents and I choose to go, it takes some advance planning, especially if we are going to my sister's home, nearly a five-hour drive away.

With my nephews now old enough to play football on their respective teams, we knew we wanted to take in a game this fall, meaning we'd leave Thursday morning to arrive in time for Taylor's late afternoon junior high game and stay over on Friday to take in Timothy's varsity game on Friday night.

Looking at my schedule, I knew if I wanted to go along, we'd have to go before our local schools started celebrating their homecomings but after Steam Engine Days and start-of-the-school activities calmed down a bit. So, we chose the weekend of Sept. 19-22 to go visit my sister and her family.

We securred a hotel room and I arranged a few days off from work and we waited for the weekend to arrive. Timothy, who was sidelined last year after tearing his ACL in the first game, had been cleared to return to play this year, but injured his other knee in the first game of the season again. He sat out of practice for a week so only played a small amount in his second game, but was on track to once again take his position on the starting line of his third game, the one we planned to attend.

Well, that was not to be as during the weekend, he was driving into town on Saturday night and hit a deer. He was driving on loose gravel, lost control of his vehicle and rolled three times before coming to a stop. Thankfully, he was wearing his seatbelt. He was injured, fracturing a vertebrae in his back, but should fully recover after wearing a brace for six weeks and physical therapy. However, he's sitting out another football season and we missed our opportunity to see him play once again.

We decided to make the trip to watch Taylor play since we'd already arranged the trip and we were excited to watch some football. We arrived in the stadium, found some seats and made ourselves comfortable with our popcorn and refreshments, ready to cheer! I quickly yelled Taylor's name to let him know we'd arrived and I got a very subtle, hesitant wave from the hand on his hip. I had to admit, he was looking pretty cool in his uniform and I tried not to embarrass him too badly.

I got out my camera and started snapping away, more focused on trying to capture Taylor through my telephoto lense than keeping up with what was going on in the game. As a matter of fact, when I looked at the scoreboard, I was surprised to see the first quarter had slipped by and we were already into the second.

Looking up into the sky, I also noticed the dark clouds were rolling in and the people around me were checking the weather on their phones. My sister explained that the forecast for the day included a chance for strong storms and as we looked westward, we could see rain and lightning coming our way.

We sat there, contemplating our next move, for a bit too long and got wet as the rain started. Luckily, we had reached the entrance and a small shelter before it poured down.

After awhile, with the wind whipping debris across the field and the lightning becoming more intense and more frequent, the game was called. It would resume the following Tuesday, with the exact score and time left on the clock. Unfortunately, the cheering section would be missing two grandparents and a proud aunt.

We made our way back to our cars and we got wet - wetter than I'd been in a long time - but, to be honest, it was kind of exhilirating!

Even though I didn't get to see Timothy play football and saw Taylor play for only a brief time, it was still fun to see where they play and to see some of their teammates and friends.

I was disappointed, but our visit to Iowa also resulted in a bit of a surprise. As we drove through town and looked at the homecoming decorations up that week, I noticed that the football team was playing Oskaloosa, a town where one of my college friends currently lives. Knowing that her son is also a football player, I called her to see if she was coming to Chariton for the game. I was hoping to meet up with her, even if only for a brief moment, if she was.

Ironically, her son was not playing that night either and she had not planned to come to the game for that reason. However, she agreed to drive down anyway to meet me for a visit.

Cathy and I had been very close friends in college and had kept in touch through the years, especially after we "friended" each other on Facebook. We spend countless nights playing Words With Friends in the early morning or late night hours when everyone else is in bed, but I was still nervous about seeing her in person and worried we would have nothing in common to talk about anymore.

Of course I should not have worried. As soon as I hugged her, I knew that our friendship was still an important part of our lives. We talked for several hours and remembered our days of college, but also shared news about our loved ones and our current lives. It was definitely a special part of the weekend.

So, even though our weekend did not go as first planned, in one way it was definitely better. Having the opportunity to catch up with an "old" friend was truly an unexpected gift.