Harvey H. Jackson: What I am thankful for
Dec 04, 2013 | 2349 views |  0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Like so many others, on Thanksgiving Day I reflected on the many things for which I am thankful — family, friends, that sorta stuff.

Then, a few days later, I added something else to my list.

I am thankful for a wife who knows when not to pay me any mind.

Let me explain.

When my son entered Auburn University a couple of years ago, my wife bought season football tickets for the family. Although she enjoys the game, I am certain she also bought them so she could visit her first-born in his new habitat and make sure he was living up to her expectations, which were pretty low.

The first season was ho-hum, so-so, rebuilding after the national championship run.

The next season, last year, was an unmitigated disaster, and after watching the Tigers sink so low, I suggested that buying season tickets again would be spending good money after bad.

She ignored me and bought the tickets.

Then in the summer, as you, my wildly ambivalent readers, know, my 97-year-old mother fell and I found myself spending most of my time in Florida to be near her — she continues to improve, thanks for asking.

Football was pushed onto my back burner — way back.

Finding that some of the therapists at Mama’s rehab facility were Auburn graduates, I was able to sell some of the tickets. But I wanted to see the Mississippi State game, so, with Mama in good hands, I put on orange and blue, right down to my “lucky” Auburn boxers, and drove up to join my wife at the game.

That day, a previously unimpressive Auburn team played 60 minutes of smash-mouth football, scored with seconds left to play and won its first Southeastern Conference game since 2011.

I was thankful we were there.

As the weeks passed, that feeling grew because after a setback in Baton Rouge, the Auburn Tigers began to roll.

So we made plans to meet again when the Georgia Bulldogs came to town.

The day dawned and again I put on my orange-and-blue boxers (yes, they had been washed), drove to meet up with the family, and was there for the “miracle in Jordan-Hare.”

I was more thankful than ever.

Thus, it came to pass that after celebrating Thanksgiving with my mother and eating enough to sustain a small nation, we loaded up and went to Auburn for the Iron Bowl.

Once there, I found the mood of folks at our motel strangely reserved. The Auburn fans greeted other Auburn fans with a subdued “War Eagle” and the Alabama fans, in unfamiliar and presumably unfriendly territory, seemed to mumble “Roll Tide” under their breaths.

Downtown, near campus, was much the same. A popular hamburger joint was full of UA folks, but everyone kept to themselves, more or less. When one guy in crimson got a little loud, his companions quickly shushed him.

It was a mixture of anticipation and anxiety.

It was game day, Iron Bowl style.

We sat in the stadium with folks we have gotten to know over the season. Back behind us, a few rows up, was a collection of Alabama fans. The people who bought those tickets apparently scalped them to supporters from the visiting school, for last week it was full of folks cheering for Georgia.

Together we watched the game.

And together we witnessed what is being called “The Greatest Ending in Football History” — sportswriters love superlatives.

My buddy Bill wrote to tell me to be sure to save my ticket to prove I was there, for in the years to come more and more folks will swear they witnessed it in person — just like the 5,000-plus who claim to have been in the Atlanta nightclub when a then-unknown Jimmy Buffett sang to an audience of less than 10.

It is saved.

Now, I understand that some fans got more than a little rowdy. I did not see it. However, I know how fans of one team can find fans of the other obnoxious — and I gotta admit the gleeful chanting of the UA fans when their team got ahead was irritating. But they were simply enjoying that momentary thrill of victory. Their silence at the end underscored the agony of defeat.

If those fans had stayed around for the postgame celebration, they would not have liked what Auburn fans chanted. On the other hand, if Auburn fans had stayed at Bryant-Denny Stadium after last year’s dubbing, they would have heard the same.

So I watched as students, including my son, flooded the field, and over the din I heard my daughter say, “Just remember — one second can change everything.”

Thanks to my wife, I was there for that second.

I can’t wait to see which of my ideas she will ignore next.

Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University and a columnist and editorial writer for The Star. Email: hjackson@jsu.edu.
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