In May of this year I got a call on Mother’s day that hospice had been called in for my beloved uncle who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer not long before, that time was running short. My uncle was a Gamecock and had a lot of great stories about the Gamecocks in the 1990s and where part of my love for this program came from. I have not told many this but the world is my audience so you are privy to this information. As I walked to his bed on that Sunday night, he told me he was proud of me and that he loved me. He passed away the following Tuesday. I had the privilege of eulogizing him that following Thursday and to this day that is still something I am proud of. The past 6 months have been a terribly tough time for my family and anyone that know our family. To know my uncle Don was to love him.
Let me backup a little further. In July of 2012, my best friend and parent’s lifelong friend Timmy Peake lost a long battle to diabetes. Another great friend of mine, Thomas Wilkes (if you read my book, you are familiar with Thomas who is a Clemson fan and one of the absolute greatest humans on the face of the planet), were on our way to a Braves game against the Giants when we got the call that Timmy was not going to make it much longer. Douglas’ father passed away that weekend. My family and I were on a cruise out of Tampa that weekend on Timmy’s orders, but miserable because we had lost our family member.
Flash-forward 8 years. Another great friend, Dillon Cail, lost his father who was another great Gamecock, in a prolonged battle with cancer. Douglas, Dillon, and myself joke about the entire situation. What is there to do? They are part of why we cheer for the Gamecocks. They are part of why this team makes us happy, and yet so miserable.. They would have all been happy after today. I like to think they are all smiling in Heaven today after today’s comeback victory.
Call me wuss, call me whatever you want. I cried like a baby today. It is odd that it took a stupid college football game for me to realize how much these people meant to me. I had not cried a single tear since Timmy, Jimmy, or my uncle Don’s funeral that I had the privilege of speaking at in May. When the clock ran out today, even my wife, who is a two-time Clemson graduate, had to embrace me. The dumb memories of tailgating, NASCAR races, or golfing for years just came flooding back. I was overcome by emotion. I don’t cry, I never do. But the victory over Clemson got the best of me. I let it go at a friend’s house and couldn’t help it. I reached out to my sister who is overseas, I reached out to my grandfather and talked for a minute, and my dad who is responsible for me cheering for this team. I reached out to Douglas and Dillon. We reminisced and talked about Timmy, Jimmy, and Don. Today was special. Really, really special. I legitimately cried for hours this afternoon like a baby. Judge me if you want, I am here for it.
I am 31 years old, and teach high school social studies, and I cried like a child today over the Gamecocks beating the Tigers in Memorial Stadium. I cried for those beloved Gamecocks that have gone on before us before seeing that special moment on Saturday, especially those that I hold dear to my heart. I like to think they saw and played a role in that special moment on Saturday. Shane Beamer and his team went into Memorial Stadium and ended a long losing streak to the Tigers, but it meant so much more than that. I haven’t cried in years. I cried tears of joy today, and I won’t apologize for it. I hope you all can find some joy in the emotional moments today as well. Enjoy moments like today. Go Cocks!!!