Every Saturday during college football season there is a gathering of family and friends to watch Notre Dame play. For the past five years I have attended almost every single Saturday. In these years I have come to feel that I am a member of the Irish family even though I am not related. This family represents the typical American family these days. Their hardships and triumphs are what most families are going through in this day and age, and I am sure that each reader will be able to relate to at least one member of this family.
The mother and father just celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary last week. They are middle class, and the father just retired from the State Police last year. He was looking forward to relaxing and really enjoying his first couple months of retirement when he fell quite ill. The illness lasted for about a month until a doctor finally ordered an X-ray of his abdomen. The news was not what the family expected: renal cancer. The father was lucky because they caught it early and the cancer had not spread anywhere else yet. An operation was performed and his kidney was removed without having to go through chemotherapy. It has been about six months since the surgery and he is doing great and really enjoying his retirement with his family.
The mother is always preparing the snacks as I come in usually about thirty minutes early. This mother has a job as a secretary and does the payroll but is always worried about losing it just like most Americans with a job today. She is especially worried now because her company is being taken over by new owners and everyone there has to reapply for their position. She complains about the job just like everyone else who has a job. She says she does not care if she gets fired but does not know what she would do without the job.
They also have 3 children, a son and two daughters. The eldest, the son, has missed or usually arrives late to many games because of a job that he hates. He is 23 and trying to get into the State Police Academy to follow in his fathers and grandfathers footsteps. In the meantime he is working to save money to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. They have been together for five years. Like many young people today, he did struggle with alcohol when he first turned 21, but that all changed when his girlfriend adopted a child. The child is the girlfriend’s cousin’s child who was a drug addict and is now in jail. He is now almost two and he is truly their son. The girlfriend is working as a bartender and trying to get her degree. Cancer had also struck her family and her mom lost her third battle with cancer just one month ago.
The middle child, a daughter, is usually never around for the games. She just turned 21. She had a full scholarship to play volleyball in college and was all set to go when she finally told her parents that she was about three months pregnant. Many shows glamorize teen pregnancy and they do not know what actually goes into being a mother. Her parents were furious with her for keeping it a secret. After giving birth, her parents basically raised the child for the first year of his life. She now has a second child and is taking very good care of them. Her parents love and adore all three of their grandchildren.
The youngest child, another daughter usually is absent from the games now since she just started college this year. She has already decided to change her major. Since the new major is not offered at her current college she will also be transferring next semester. That is the normal college experience for most students today. We all struggle trying to figure out what we want to do for the rest of our lives at such a young age.
Every Saturday this all American family comes together to watch Notre Dame Football though. There are also many family friends that attend. This tradition has been going on in the same house for close to fifty years now. The passion for Notre Dame has been passed on from parents to children for four generations now.
Now every family has traditions for almost all of their family’s gatherings and the Notre Dame games are no different. The smokers sit in the kitchen in a thick haze being punished by watching a smaller television while everyone else is in the spacious living room with all the fresh air. Everybody also has an assigned seat or space that they are always in. If you are not in that spot then a bad play or a loss could be blamed on you. The Notre Dame fight song is also played every time the Fighting Irish score. For a field goal the song is played softly, and for a touchdown it is blared to where it gets the dogs howling along with the tune. Individuals also have traditions to do with their clothing. I always buy a new Notre Dame shirt every season and only wear that shirt on the game days. The father will not even touch an article of clothing with Notre Dame on it during game day for fear of jinxing the team. He may also change his clothes many time through the game even his underwear to hope to change the momentum of the game. If Notre Dame wins, you must drink beer from the game winning cup no matter if you drink beer or not. That is the only thing that that specific cup is used for in the house. The final tradition is drinking, singing loud Irish music, and sharing stories that have been told many times, but loving them all the same.
No matter what background, race, or religion most families in America deal with the same exact issue every day. They worry about their jobs, they have their traditions, worry about school, and deal with many issues. This family is just one example of many that there are in America today. You may replace some of the items in the story, but I guarantee that every family in the United States can identify with at least one person or issue in this story. Every toast we make while we are drinking after the games always starts with the “Old Irish Blessing.” So I leave you with this: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wins always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Photos take from www.google.com