Some moments stay etched in your mind, never to be stolen by age.
I can still look across the kitchen table to where my oldest son, Joe, sat some 20 years ago, opening the newspaper and nervously seeking the score of the World Series game involving the Cleveland Indians. He wanted to stay up the night before to watch it, but with school being the next day and he being in the third grade, it wasn’t going to happen.
His eyes quickly began swimming in tears. He must have stared at that headline a good five seconds, as if doing so would somehow make it magically disappear. No such luck. Breakfast was spoiled. The Tribe had lost the World Series.
A few years later I would take him to his first Browns game. About an hour outside Cleveland, a sports talk show started blasting through the radio more clearly, building our anticipation as the announcers dissected the game. I don’t know why I said it, but at one point I turned to Joe and said, “You know the Browns could lose today.” To which he retorted, “That’s what I dislike about you, Dad, you’re so negative when it comes to Cleveland.”
It was time for a history lesson.
He was told about Red Right 88. The Drive. The Fumble … all the years of hope, heartache and more endless h0pe.
He brushed that off as old-man talk.
But you know what they say: Like father, like son. By the time that 8-year-old boy finished his teen years, he was as jaded as I when it came to Cleveland sports. Always hoping. Always surrendering to doom, despair and agony. And then finding hope again.
We attended many more games together, probably seeing three times more losses than wins. I cannot begin to name all the bad quarterbacks we watched in Cleveland uniforms: Frye, Anderson, Holcomb, McCoy, Weeden and a short bald guy from San Francisco who’s name happily escapes me.
Then came LeBron James, the Cavs and one special Father’s Day.
Joe’s job took him to Cincinnati a year ago so we had been texting each other throughout the playoffs — “Good start” … “Kyrie!!!!” … “still alive” … “LeBron’s locked in” … “the ugly jerseys are the good luck charm.”
When he told me Father’s Day weekend he was going to stay with us to watch the Cavs, I couldn’t help but think about their chances of winning a title. Maybe, just maybe … but both of us knew not to complete that thought. No reason to mess around with the Cleveland Jinx.
By game time, it was standing room only as friends of our youngest son, Alex, poured into the family room. My daughter, Emily, and wife, Mary Beth, gave up their chairs and went out to the kitchen to watch. What were they thinking, I wondered. What are they thinking! We’ve watched every game together and those were lucky chairs. You don’t give up your lucky chair!
When Kyrie Irving hit his three-pointer with 54 seconds left, everyone in the room couldn’t help but think maybe, just maybe …
Then LeBron crashed to the floor with 10 seconds remaining and didn’t get up. All I could think of was Earnest Byner. Not again. Not Steph Curry being the next John Elway and sending the game into overtime. Not again.
But LeBron got up.
And Cleveland fans got up with him.
He made a foul shot that in essence drove a wooden stake into the heart of the Jinx.
The curse was over.
Suddenly Red Right 88, The Drive and The Fumble didn’t sting as much.
It indeed was old-man talk.
That boy who cried while reading the morning headlines was now standing in the middle of the room, arms raised as he yelled out ‘Cleveland’ and then high-fiving his brother. A daughter bravely wiggled through all the jumping and hollering young men to hug her Dad. And a wife flashed a wedding day smile.
It was a Father’s Day story for the ages. A memory to cherish forever.
ROSES AND THORNS: A wish made two decades ago earns a Lima man a spot in the rose garden.
Rose: To Barry and Lori McCullough, and their son Cody. Twenty-four years ago on June 19, a Lima News reporter working on a Father’s Day story interviewed Barry at St. Rita’s Medical Center, asking him what wishes he had for their newly born son, Cody. Barry replied, “That one day he’ll be able to see a Cleveland professional sports team win a championship.” That happened exactly 24 years later on Father’s Day when the Cavaliers won the NBA title.
Rose: To the late Ruth Shirey, 93, of Lima, who died June 18. The last line of her obituary read: “Ruth just wanted to let everyone know that ‘the old lady died.’”
Rose: To Kathy Williams, who is retiring from St. Rita’s Medical Center after working 43 years in both marketing and development.
Rose: To the Rev. David Kidd, son of Kathy and Kevin Kidd, of Lima. He was ordained a Catholic priest on Saturday and said his first Mass on Sunday at St. Charles.
Rose: To Catherine Reed and Linda Tarmeon, of the West Central Chapter of the American Red Cross. Reed, of the Lima office, went to Texas to help with its flooding while Tarmeon, of the Wapakoneta office, traveled to Canada to assist people dealing with the wildfires.
Thorn: Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Debord, a U.S. Naval officer from Waynesfield, has been called a “sex-starved officer” for his role in a military bribery scandal. Debord allegedly received cash, hotel rooms and prostitutes in exchange for information about a pending investigation.
Thorn: To Perry school board members, who refused to allow people attending a recent meeting to address the board. The board cited a rule that required people to register before the meeting if they want to speak, even though they’ve ignored the rule in the past. More than 50 people showed up at the meeting in support of high school principal Nick Weingart, whom they fear is on the verge of losing his job.
PARTING SHOT: Why is it that doctors call what they do “practice”?
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.