"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Golden Memories

Cropped transparent version of Image:Olympic f...
Cropped transparent version of Image:Olympic flag.svg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Olympics were about the only real t.v. material I remember watching as a family when I was a little girl.We didn't have a television through my whole growing up (on purpose) so we had to go to my grandma's cabin five miles away or to a friend's house in order to catch any of the events. Man, did that make it seem like a big deal! I remember pretending I was Kristi Yamaguchi after watching her stunning skating performances and imagining how it might feel to do fabulous routines on the uneven parallel bars.
We were a family of nature lovers and artists, not really sports types for the most part. It seemed very important when Papa suddenly manifested team spirit and a magnetic attraction to viewing this sporting event. I remember feeling curious by his excitement and watching him cheer for a photo finish to see what it all meant and how you reacted to it.

I think The Olympics, chapter books and missionaries were the ways I learned about other cultures and countries. There wasn't a lot of first-hand ethnic variation in the north woods of Michigan. Seeing all those bright, unfamiliar flags and proud athletes from the other side of the globe representing their people seemed like something deeply poetic and opened the world to me in my little log house.  I remember watching my eccentric, witty, tall, liberal grandmother sitting next to me, my little legs pulled up Indian style on her couch, her leaning forward, pausing in the middle of her eternal Solitaire game squinting up at the little television set on the wall. Some American was being awarded the gold medal for their performance, they slipped the ribbon necklace over their neck, they clutched their roses, they waved to the crowd, and with the camera panning the sea of Americans and the winner's hand proudly over their heart, the music swelled into our national anthem, and next to me on the couch my clever, stoic grandmother had tears running down her cheeks. I was astonished, The Olympics were clearly important stuff.

And now, here I am watching re-runs of yesterdays key events on YouTube with my little boys who are watching my face to see what it all means and trying to understand how it all works. It gives me a deep thrill to see them acting our foot-races, being impressed by the good sportsmanship on the screen, asking if they can get out our flag to wave and making Tinker Toy torches. And I do hope I'm passing the flame on well.

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