There she is. The Packers' greatest fan. I will never witness anything about the Green Bay Packers again without thinking of her. My Mom.
Over the years her loyalty never waivered. She watched every game. She gathered souvenirs and mementos. She screamed and hollared "Go-Go-Go!" from her living room so loud they probably heard it in Green Bay.
She collected memorabilia. She had her photo taken with Chris Jacke. She had a room in her apartment dedicated to "The Pack". In it she hung posters, schedules, photos, a wooden hand-painted Packer on a swing suspended from her ceiling. She collected stamps, and any limited edition ornament, or keychain. She wore Packer jewelry - earrings with the logo outlined in rhinestones, a pin, something that blinked. She wore a Packer jersey and hat on game day, and for Halloween - going as none-other than the ultimate fan - herself.
She new the players. The plays. She knew the rules, and when the rules were broken. She knew a good call from a bad. She loved the game, and the team. Stood by them no matter what.
She reveled in their victories. Cheered loud and strong when they went to the Superbowl, and dreamed of seeing them go again.
This past year she battled colon cancer and lost. Late in the summer we met with the doctor to discuss her prognosis. To discuss what kind of time she had left. In the meeting she told the doctor she wanted enough time to see the Packers play another season. She wanted to see them go to another Superbowl. The doctor told her she might see the Packers play another season, but, well, the Superbowl was another matter. She laughed. He laughed. We all laughed.
It was a strange day.
Little did we know that day that she wouldn't make it to another season at all. Only two weeks later she was fading quickly away. Much faster than any of us would have hoped or anticipated. The day before she died the Packers played a pre-season game against the Colts. They won. Though she lay unconscious in a hospital bed in her living room, the tv set was on, and the game played as we gathered to be with her. When they won we told her so. The next day she died, and the Packers were short one incredible fan. On earth at least.
As the days moved on we cleared out her things. We sorted through her Packer shrine. Some things we shared, some we didn't. But every bit of it spoke to her enthusiasm for the game and for her team.
Throughout the season my sisters and I would comment on how well the team was doing. We would remark that maybe Mom was up there somewhere guiding the Packers to a Superbowl. We would joke that we could almost hear her cheering them on from somewhere in the crowd. That maybe now she was on the sidelines with our Dad, pushing them closer and closer to victory. Sprinkling some kind of magic over the field.
So far it seems to be working. Mom's favorite team is going to the big game. The Superbowl. Just as she'd hoped. Just as millions of other Packers fans hoped. A dream come true.
And yet, I can't help but feel melancholy. Sad that she didn't make it to see it here with the rest of us, on earth. Missing her every day. Thinking of her with every mention of the team, and the big game.
All I can do is hope that wherever she is, she'll be watching. My dad sitting beside her. Both of them cheering and screaming and yelling "Go-Go-Go!". Praying for a win.
I'll be praying, too.