Friday, April 26, 2019

Goodbye John Havlicek

My thoughts and prayers to Mr. Havlicek and his family.  I know virtually nothing of him, except his name.  And that is from stories my parents used to tell from a time when a young man named Havlicek took Ohio State to the college basketball championship.  Ohio State is more football than basketball, so that remains a storied time in our basketball program.

The punchline of the story as I heard it was that my Mom was all of a sudden a fanatical Buckeyes basketball fan.  So fanatical that she would neglect my sister if she was crying (I wasn't around, and wouldn't be for several more years).  That always got a good laugh since everyone knew my Mom was one of those 'kids first' moms.  According to my Dad, she actually became quite animated during some of the games.  Again, another anomaly (though my Mom could be quite open about her enthusiasm when the time was right).

I post this because it's bittersweet to think about.  My Dad passed away some eight years ago now.  My Mom has moderate dementia.  She can still remember things, and has no problem with basic living.  Though now she needs round the clock supervision.  But Havlicek's name comes from a different time: when I was a youngster, wide eyed listening to my still robust Mom and Dad talk about some magical time in history, when they were young, my older sister a toddler, and in my mind's eye I fashioned a nostalgia for a period I never knew.

For his part, Havlicek went on to be a celebrated NBA star, but that is outside of my recollections.  They didn't seem to follow him past OSU, and I wouldn't have known of his exploits otherwise.  I never followed sports much as a youngster, being one of the few kids my age who knew only the basics of Ohio sports: Woody Hayes was coach at Ohio State, the Big Red Machine, and Cleveland Browns.  I was also aware of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders.  Otherwise, not much.

But the name Havlicek was a part of my family's narrative, and would come up periodically - often around family gatherings or family holidays - when we heard tales of that wondrous, though now much maligned, time in our history known as the pre-Beatles era of Eisenhower and Elvis.  And Havlicek.

I'm sure it was no different than many eras in history, and I'm sure my parents had their set of concerns and problems back then (in fact, based on other stories, I know they did).  Nonetheless, it remains a fond memory, one that was stirred when I heard of Mr. Havlicek's passing.  That's why I came back to post this before Pascha.

May he rest in peace, and his family receive the peace that surpasses all understanding.

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