My father was dying. Pretty poor time to get close, but with time running out, it was the only time there was. The Bruins had just swept the Capitols, and Edmonton waited. You would think that a pastime such as pro sports would fade into obscurity during a man's last few days, but instead the games became the glue that held us together. We had grown apart during the latter teen and early adult years, not knowing time was short, always thinking there would be tomorrow to make things right.
My brother and I would come over to "the house" and sit in the kitchen, while Dad rested in the living room where we had installed a hospital bed a few months earlier. The game was on a little black and white that sat in the corner, and we turned it up loud enough so he could hear, he really couldn't see at that time, the chemo and other drugs taking his ability to see clearly toward the end. But he listened, and I think he enjoyed listening to his sons carry on in the next room more that he did the game.
Growing up it was the games that brought us together, and in dying they served the same purpose. Men are strange, communicating on a different level than the opposite sex, and The Bruins served as the perfect means of communication. When we were kids it was the games, always the games that allowed some respite from being a parent, or being a kid. We were neither, just three fans watching the game.
The Bruins march toward Lord Stanley's Cup delivered us from the certainty of our own mortality during those difficult weeks. My fathers battle ended before the finals began, but we promised him that when victorious a replica of The Cup would be delivered to his grave. We had a miniature trophy that one of us got for something years prior, probably the last time the Bruins won the thing, when Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, and our favorite, The Turk, Derek Sanderson were household names in New England. We were kids then, but not much different from the young men that stood vigil with our dying father in 1990, or for that matter no different than the old men we are today. And the finest memories I have are those with a Bruins game close by, keeping us together.
Tonight will be the night that The Cup comes home. And in a few months, God willing, my brother will make it home from Afghanistan, and a miniature replica of the famous trophy will be making its triumphant journey down Rt. 95 toward its rightful place, at The Veterans Cemetery, on my father's grave, and finally, he will rest in peace.