Friday, January 17

I Am Asking For A Favor

I watched my son play basketball tonight. It was so great for me to see him playing and enjoying a sport that was a huge part of my life for so many years. I started playing Basketball around the same age he is now. I was invited to play by my friend Amy at the time and what probably seems like such a simple invite really redirected my life in ways I am sure not even I could tell.

Basketball became my life. There was a group of us that would play in a church gym for years. We would play as often as allowed, doing drills, practicing form and developing a bond with each other that still exists to this day. The group of us girls, and a few guys played all through school and a few even went on and played in college.

Basketball is the reason I tried in school. We had to maintain a certain GPA to be allowed to play on our school teams. Basketball is what kept a lot of us from troubles that often befall youth. Tonight while I cheered on my sons team I could not help but feel a warmth in my chest remembering years and years of joy this simple game gave me.

Basketball was a gift given to me buy a special woman. That woman's name was Rita.

Rita is my dear friend Amy's mom. I have known Rita since I was 10 years old.

Rita is one of the single most selfless women you will ever meet. I remember hours and hours spent with her learning this game. She would, without a word of complaint to any of us, spend over the course of 7 years afternoons coaching us. She would drive us to every game in her huge van and never asked us for gas money. She would offer up rewards to the winners of games of bump, knowing that we would try harder in practice when there was something to win. I remember sitting with her in the front seat talking to her about life and boys, sex and college. She was a second mother to us all. She was a second mother to me.

When I was a senior in high school I had a falling out with my own mother and for reasons I believe my mother was just in doing, told me she would not fund my playing Basketball my senior year which was devastating. Rita, not accepting this for me, made arrangements for me to clean her and her husbands place of business to earn the money needed to play my senior year which included uniform and travel expenses. She would also drive me at night to her office to do the cleaning.

Rita was not always our head coach. The years we had other coaches she would still attend every single game and would still drive us to every small town we had to go to. She would support for the side lines, often loudly...often very loudly, knowing what her girls could do. We won a lot, we were very good but we were only good because she has invested in the core group of us from such a young age. Rita not only dedicated her time and energy in us for Basketball, she would drive us Friday night into Calgary from our small home town to watch the 88's (a basketball team)  and to other events and activities, always in her huge van and ALWAYS with sunflower seeds to eat while she drove.

After dances and games she would always take us to Peters Drive in for food. We would drive around the city with our music blaring and playing pranks on other motorists. We would play firedrill games at red lights and spray people with water guns. She would laugh along with us and when one of us had some sort of problem she would lecture and council us to make better decisions.

Today before my sons Basketball game began I received news Rita is not well and is in the hospital.
She is such a private woman, that I feel I might be breaking her privacy by writing this, but I can't help it, after watching my sons games tonight having  floods of fond memories that all involved her.

So I am asking a favor, and I have never done that before.... I no longer know where I stand with faith. I am not sure what I feel or believe anymore concerning it..but I know what Rita believes, and so I am asking for prayer. I am asking for everyone who can and will to pray for her. The thought of this woman who has done so much for me and many others over the years to not be well in anyway is not something I can handle. I am not sure how prayer looks for everyone, but I don't care. If it's meditation, happy thoughts or actual words to a higher power on bended knee..whatever it is, I am asking for it now.

While my son ran up and down the court tonight all I could think about was Rita in her black pants and matching jacket hollering at us to run faster and to try harder.

I owe so much to that wonderful woman,  my eyes are blurry with tears and my heart is so very heavy tonight.

Basketball is one of the reasons I wanted to have kids. To one day cheer from the sidelines, to be a mom like her, to give another child the love of this beautiful game the way she gave it to me.

I am grateful.



Kirstan C. Sonnenberg said...

Rita has my prayers, Joelle!

Unknown said...

Rita has my prayers to :-).

Ken said...

Today, when I'm at my own kids basketball tournament, I'll think of your friend. :)