When I was nine the Flyers won the Stanley Cup. People bought shirts, bumper stickers, soda cans, anything with the Flyer's logo on it. We didn't have a lot of money then. My father was a steel worker and money wasn't just pinched, it was wrung, but I had my eye on something. A glass. It wasn't empty, it was filled by some company with some milk product my father wouldn't have in the house because he didn't eat it. It was cottage cheese or sour cream or something in between that he couldn't stomach.
Now, he offered no opinion on it because it wasn't within the terms of discussion. We didn't spend money on things we didn't use. I was transfixed. It had a picture of the team, the team photo, printed in orange on a white background. I wore my mother down. She decided to pass it off as a freebee and brought it home in our grocery bag. She hushed me as she scraped the unwanted glop into the trash and hurried me to the garbage can outside. She washed it and placed it in the cabinet.
It wasn't long before I needed it, wanted it. It was on the third shelf, in retrospect, to protect it from me. I yearned for it. I remember dragging the chair over and stretching up, coaxing it to the edge with my finger tips. I pulled it out until it was right there, right in my hand. Then... then it was gone.
My son and his teammates stood on the ice today in their league championship game. It was the third period and the 16-1-1 season they had coaxed to the edge teetered for them. It was 3-0 and they were staring at a brilliant season about to end with a resounding thud.
The coach called them to the bench. "Who wants it!," he extolled. "We do!" "Who wants it!" "We do!" "Then go and get it! I want to see goals on that board. I want to see a 6 up there! I want you to go out there and give me a 6!"
Now every child and parent at the rink this day has a story. I can't tell theirs, I can only tell mine. Half of them are filled with happiness, half disappointment. I hope all of them are filled with pride because each team showed everything you'd want from youth sports: hard play, resilience, respect for the opponent, pride and heart.
Eleven minutes later it was a 2. It was a 2 and it was a game again. "Who wants it!," he yelled on the bench. My son stood at the end of the bench and yelled back at him, "I do!" A pat on the head and he was over the side for the change.
A tough shift ended empty. A shift later he was back out again. He drifted in the offensive zone. "Who wants it!," his coach yelled from the bench. Three strides and he was behind the net mucking for the puck. A won battle and a blind pass in front tied the game. Hugs, high fives and fist bumps at the bench capped the comeback.
A minute twenty nine into overtime found our team looking in diametrically opposed directions, some to the roof and the others staring at their skates. They piled their sticks and gloves at the blue line one last time and shook hands with the kids who held onto their cup.
The ride home was quiet. He stared out the passenger side window and thumbed his silver medal for second place. The one he worked so had for that now felt like the ultimate symbol of his failure. I tried to find words to comfort him. I love you. I'm proud of you. You've come so far in three years, you should be proud of yourself. Nothing coaxed his eyes from the road falling behind him or turned that thumbed silver into gold.
A couple weeks later, my mom came back from the store with a surprise. Another glass full of useless glop to be scraped into the trash. She washed it and put it on the bottom shelf and told me this was for me and that it was my responsibility to take care of it.
It moved in with me when I was married and had a son of my own. It sat on the top shelf and no one used it. No one until my son became obsessed with it. I moved it to the bottom shelf and told him it was his responsibility to take care of it. One day, it slipped from his fingers and crashed into the sink. He looked at me, terrified. "It's okay," I said. "Daddy can always buy another one."