ashtanga is my daddy’s football

I am in India studying with my teacher David Garrigues, so I am in a different time zone than my family of origin.

Before leaving for  this nearly 6 week trip to this wild and wonderful adventure called India, I spent a full day with my dad. I cleaned his room, did his laundry, clipped his toenails, ate lunch with him and his pals and watched television with him while my chihuahuas sat on his lap. It was a lovely day. When It was time to leave I could feel the thought that it might be the last time we would be together in a both of us alive kind of way. He was becoming more and more feeble and his heart and lungs were growing weary. I didn’t tell him I was going to India, I didn’t want to confuse him, I didn’t want him to worry.

So I kissed him on the cheek and squeezed his hand and said “Bye bye daddy, see you soon.”

This morning at about 5:30 AM Kovalam time I checked my emails before practice. There were many from my husband, I read them first, and then one from my brother. Uh oh….my father died.  “He slipped off with dignity.” My brother assured me that his transition was smooth and that it was for the best.   He was ready to go.

neek, me, dad’s real pig skin football, jeff, jenn and valerie

Football had been his life’s passion. He had been  a great player and an even better coach. He loved the game, those x’s and o’s  where wired up in his DNA and it  was everywhere in my childhood. He used to tell me that had I been a boy, I would have been an unstoppable halfback. He beamed with pride  when he said this, and so it made me stand tall to think how unstoppable halfback I would have been  in a slightly different form. He did not exclude me from his football, rather he put me in charge of the pre-season stretching drills for his team. There I was  a fifth grader, whistle around my  little girl neck directing the stretching warm-up drills for my daddie’s football team. To this day I feel most at home in a big sunny football stadium with the  smell of popcorn and hotdogs, the sounds of bands banging, and cheerleaders jumping and clapping, the vendors selling the home team’s colors, and the little kids running around with little tiny footballs.

But this football season was different than all of the others. My brother Jeff had to remind dad when the games where. Sometimes when Jeff  went over to watch a game with my dad  he was watching an animal show or a Turner Classic Movie. We knew he was not long for this world. He was done and so he went.

My brother and sister and her wife were with him as he went. They made plans to get him cremated the next day, and  to have celebration of his life on his upcoming birthday, March 28th. I will be home by then.

the upper darby high school gang
my dad is on the way right

My siblings want me to stay in India and study my yoga. They know that ashtanga is my football. So being a good middle child, I will do as I am told… I will stay here and do my yoga. My father was about 4 hours dead, I am not sure if he died yesterday, today, or tomorrow, the time zone thing is confusing. No matter what the date, I suited up for practice, grabbed my torch (flashlight) for the walk and off I go to yoga.

4 comments

  1. What a beautiful tribute, Suze. He was a lucky man to have you as a daughter. He was lucky to have all you kids–you are the very best family I know. We miss you here at home. Come back soon! XOXO

  2. Suzanne, I am so sorry – what a lovely, moving essay this was. Tears in my eyes! How amazing, though, that you spent that wonderful day with him before you left for Kovalum. Breathing with you right now…and sending love,

    Michelle

  3. Suzanne – this is rock solid. It is funny that I happened to be talking about this with Jenn and Jeff the other day (you are to yoga as dad is to football). This is a great tribute and I love it that you make the connection between you and dad. The best part of growing up and growing older is embracing every part of ourselves and making sense of who we are in the context of our family and to the depths of our lonely souls.
    Can't wait to celebrate Dad with you on the Celebrate Dad/Valerie turns 50 March 28/29 extravaganza ( I will miss having my birthday with him!)

    You da best.

    valerie

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