Wednesday, September 28, 2005

On Hope and a 41-year old Quarterback

On Hope and a 41-year old Quarterback

I’m not sure why the New York Times headline, “Quarterback Testaverde to Return to Jets,” brought me to tears. I’m not that into Vinny Testaverde. Truth be told, I’m not into football all that much either, lately. But in the same week that I wished my father (recovering from a prolonged illness) and grandfather (recently widowed after 60+years of marriage) their respective “Happy” Birthdays, and interviewed for a job which I’m not confident I have (and the phones have been eerily silent), and then read today’s headlines: “Iraqi Teachers Gunned Down,” or “Storm Victims May Face Curbs on Bankruptcy,” or “Former FEMA Chief Blames Local Officials for Failures,” or any headline for the past month that started with “Hurricane (Name Here),” suddenly, the return of a 41-year old quarterback was really good news.

Maybe it has to do with hope. Without Chad Pennington, or even backup quarterback, Jay Fiedler, both sidelined with shoulder injuries, the Jets season looks as promising as, as…I’m in such a funk, I can’t name something that’s even remotely promising. As promising as me thinking of something that’s promising.

When you’ve lost hope or, haven’t been given any hope, you fail to see the reason to go on. Why bother? I know what it’s like to have no hope. My father suffered a devastating illness this summer: his aorta ruptured from an aneurysm he didn’t know he had. He went to the emergency room after he complained of stomach pain and nausea and collapsed in the ER. After a CAT scan, the doctor came out to inform us that he had suffered massive internal bleeding from a ruptured artery. Then he said, “We don’t think he’ll make it. If you believe in God, pray.” That’s what he said. It was hopeless. I won’t replay the next excruciating five hours our family endured, sitting, hopeless, in the surgical waiting room. It’s a low I never want to visit again. But, I am happy to tell you, that doctor was wrong.

My father made, what some would call, a miraculous recovery. He did what others said could not be done. Against all odds, he made it. And when he returned to that hospital recently for a visit, after staying there for six long weeks, recovering without any brain damage, without any organ damage, walking on the legs they said he’d lose from the blood loss, he was applauded by the hospital staff. They knew, that was Hope walking out the door.

So, you see, with the return of Vinny Testaverde to the rudderless Jets, suddenly, there is hope on the horizon. Maybe just a faint green glimmer, but it’s there.

Maybe Vinny's hopeful to me for another reason. We have something in common; matching Achilles tendon surgery scars. His was more famous, obviously, but we both recovered and one of us is, apparently, none worse for the wear. (I, on the other hand, have trouble surviving the Tuesday night volleyball league without reaching for the Advil bottle.) And even at 41, he’s like that Energizer Bunny - still going.

Emily Dickinson, one of my favorite poets, wrote,

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all…

Today, for me, hope is the guy with a green and white jersey, a quarterback, formerly of Brooklyn, NY, who never stops at all. Funny thing, that hope. If you've lost it, you never know where it might turn up.

Now, the Jets fans, the sports columnists, the real football fans, the ones who know a thing or two about players’ career statistics or how tough the competition is or even how this new, older, former NY quarterback will fit in with this newer NY offense, they will, surely, have something to say about how hopeful this season really is. They might question how much further that bunny can go on drumming.

And when Testaverde goes to Baltimore on Sunday to back up the Jets’ backup backup QB, Brooks Bollinger, will I still have hope? I think the answer is, yes. Maybe not for the Jets or their lame-out-of-the-gate season. But hopeful, still. Again. And it has nothing to do with football.

There is a very hopeful line in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy which, though it’s no “J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets,” might serve in some inspirational capacity for Jets fans:

All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
a light from the shadows shall spring;
renewed shall be blade that was broken,
the crownless again shall be king.*

Here’s to all the strong, old, wandering, deep-rooted, glitterless gold in the world, particularly the ones wearing a green & white #16 jersey. Thanks for the hope. Go Jets!

* The King referred to in this stanza is Aragorn, Son of Arathorn, exiled heir to the throne of Gondor, who’s Elvish name, “Estel,” means, “Hope,” and who was quoted in the story as saying, “There is always hope.”

That was far too much geeky information, wasn’t it? ;-
- digitally-enhanced photo by Carolyn Torella
Giants vs. Jets
August 6, 2005
Giants training camp, Albany, NY


At 10:59 AM, Blogger Arevanye said...

really nice story, Carolyn! Not too geeky at all. :) (at least not for me)

At 11:11 AM, Blogger CarolynVB said...

Aw, thanks! I was editing it over and over when you posted, I guess. I added even more sappiness, but it stands the geek-level remained the same. lol...

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

I really enjoyed reading the three articles Carolyn. Keep up the writing. I'd like to read more.

At 3:33 PM, Blogger CarolynVB said...

Thanks, Jim. I might have one upcoming in an actual newspaper..if I can get the thing written. Things are a bit crazy here.

Also writing a short novel for A bit crazy there, too...50,000 words in a month. I might post pieces of it here...a little baseball, a little love story, who knows what else...maybe I'll throw in a murder just to see if I can write it! lol

Same ID name there, CarolynVB...I have an excerpt posted there.

Thanks, again. = )

At 4:52 PM, Blogger CarolynVB said...

Oops! Forgot to give the link to the excerpt...


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