Today is Iron Bowl Day but it doesn’t feel like it and I’m not quite sure why. This should be the biggest day of the year but it just isn’t, at least not at 08:20 in the morning. Maybe after I have a little “toast” before kick-off the old emotions will come flooding back to me (God I hope so).
It’s been kind of a weird week, emotions wise. It started with the joy and excitement of spending time with my aunt and grandmother to celebrate my grandmother’s 99th birthday. 99! Can you imagine what life is like looking back on 99 years? I thank God that grandmother’s mind is fully intact. She’s not as sharp as she was at 98 but still remembers most of the events of her life.
Take this story she told my aunt and me about her parents courtship: Seems that my great grandfather, Melvin, wasn’t the most suave man around the village. His problem was that he was hot to trot over one of the most sought after girls in the area. I picture my great grandmother, May Louella, as a late 17th century high maintenance lady as my grandmother told the story and Melvin had some stiff competition.
He proposed to May over the course of a few years and each time May emphatically told him to go away. Finally she was so fed up with his proposals she ripped the jewel out of a ring Melvin had given her, tossed it away, and returned the ring to Melvin all in his presence. Pretty ruthless but I think this is the first recorded instance of the famous Feary guilt because somehow May said “yes” to the pathetic Melvin. They went on to have three children of which my grandmother was the youngest born in 1907.
My wife never said “no” to me. If she had I would probably have turned tail and run. My life would be completely different today and I have to thank the Iron Bowl for that. Yes, the Iron Bowl. It may sound silly but one of the primary reasons I’m with Tracey was an emotional Auburn victory over Alabama in 1995.
I had decided that rather than party with friends on my 25th birthday and then attend the annual Iron Bowl match in Auburn that I would drive over for a date with a lady in Columbia, South Carolina. Now the plan was for me to high tail it back to Atlanta to at least watch the game on TV with some friends but I ended up staying in Columbia through the next day. There was no time to make it back to Atlanta to watch the game.
Instead, I watched the entire 1995 Iron Bowl by myself in an Applebee’s in Lexington, South Carolina. There were a whole bunch of Gamecock fans that had come in for dinner after attending their game and were so amazed at the passion displayed by this lone Auburn fan that they too began to cheer for the Tigers. We had to hold on to our hearts as Auburn held on to win 31-27 when an apparent go-ahead Alabama TD was ruled out of bounds with seconds remaining.
I remember thinking to myself as I was driving home late in the evening that I had made the right decision to see Tracey that weekend. I really didn’t miss anything by not being with my friends. But just think what I would have missed if I had not been in Columbia that weekend? I guarantee those Gamecock fans who were there with me in the end didn’t forget. They witnessed first hand what a real rivalry is all about.
Here we are eleven years after that fateful 1995 game between Auburn and Alabama. What will I be writing about in 2017, or in 2069 for that matter? For the State of Alabama, the next 364 days will be driven by today’s outcome. Some heroes will be made today. Names will go down in history books and will be written about as long as memories of today remain alive. For an Auburn fan “Bo over the top,” “Nix to Sanders,” “Jaret Holmes from 39 yards,” and the infamous “Punt Bama Punt” all are phrases close to our heart.
For our little family here in good ole central Virginia perhaps “Feary scores goal to give US gold,” “Feary invents new vaccine to cure rare disease,” or “Feary wins record lottery” may be the phrases of our future over the next sixty years. Only hard work and fate can decide.
WAR EAGLE and BEAT BAMA!