My football teacher

So yesterday, I got the call that my cousin Russell passed away. Since I’ve moved to Virginia, away from my parents, he’s basically been my father over here. Every Sunday, I would go over to their house and spend time with Russell, Vickie, and Andrew (who’s my age and is my best friend-who’s-related-to-me). While Andrew and Vickie would take naps on Sunday afternoons, usually, Russell and I would watch the football game together. I’d say, “Why are they kicking the football instead of throwing it?” and he’d patiently explain what punting was. He would tell me the name of the plays, and what the object of the game was, and why the players were doing what they were doing on the field. He even answered my stupid questions like, “What’s a first down?” and “Why did they just get a penalty?” (This latter question would almost always be answered with, “Because they’re the Redskins, and the jack*ss referees are always wanting to penalize ’em.” Russell was a die-hard Redskins fan.)

He also taught me how to play billiards. He took Andrew and me to a pool hall one night and set up the balls for me, and said, “Okay, hit that one into the pocket.” I shot and missed. So he set up the balls again and said, “Okay, try it again. But aim this time.” Mystified by the advice, I tried to figure out how to aim differently than I had the first time. I shot again, and missed again. “Nope, you’re not aiming. You gotta aim, sugar. Try it again.” Although I never actually did learn how to aim, I did learn how NOT to aim, and I had a lot of fun in the process.

It was hard to watch him be in pain after he got sick. I wanted to hug him every day, but he got so thin I was afraid I’d break him. But you know what? Even when he was in so much pain, he would still smile at me every time I came to see him, and he’d tell me I looked beautiful, and he’d give me more lessons about football, and he’d try to pronounce Troy Palomalu’s name and get it wrong (“Palawala… Pamalama… Pokehiku… whatever the hell his name is…”). Or, after a rough coughing spell, he’d mutter a string of curse words, followed by a “Loooord Miss Annabelle!’ which is, apparently, an “old saying” that no one’s ever heard of. This got to be a joke with Russell and Andrew and me. Right in the middle of a long string of curse words, he’d just pop that phrase in there, and it was so unexpected that we couldn’t help but laugh, which in turn would make him laugh as well.

Lord, Miss Annabelle… I’m gonna miss that man.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Debbie Phillips
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 23:10:38

    Sarah, How lucky he was to get to know you too! We don’t always understand why we are where we are at the time…. but the Lord gets us out of our comfort zones and places us where we are needed. You were his angel! May God bless you.



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