A bittersweet World Cup

It’s been a rough week for me. The World Cup began.

Now, I know, that’s not generally a highly emotional time… unless you’re an avid footie or a hooligan… but many Canadians don’t even notice the hype over the world’s most watched sporting event and, for those who do, the emotion is more one of excitement.

For me it has been bittersweet… but mostly bitter.

Four years ago, during the last World Cup, my father was in the final month of his terminal cancer. The tumours had riddled his brain. Our days were filled with sadness and trepidation.

Big Dude was still just a baby and I spent most of my time staying in my parent’s home. I cherish that extra time I got to spend with my father in those days, but I have not reached the point where I can look back at those memories without sadness. The overarching image in my mind of those days is my father sitting in his big wing back chair watching a World Cup match with Big Dude on his lap.

A true Brit, my father loved soccer. He watched the World Cup every four years. He played soccer in university (in those last days he went through his yearbooks showing me his team photos) and he coached my soccer team when I was young.

Now the Big Dude is playing soccer himself… and The Husband is coaching. Last year when he played I went to every practice. I chased the Little Dude around the playground and tried, mostly in vain, to catch a glimpse of how much fun the Big Dude was having on the field. Now, I find myself finding reasons not to go to soccer with the Big Dude and his Daddy. It makes me sad.

Big Dude has reached the age that my father would have loved most. He would have taken him swimming and frog hunting in his pond. He would have played soccer with him.

Last Saturday I was at my mother’s house. It was the opening World Cup match for England. I sat in my father’s chair and I watched the whole match (I’m not generally a fan of sports on television and rarely watch an entire game of anything). I drank British beer and let myself feel sad.

It was sad…. but at the same time I felt somehow that I was being given permission to enjoy the game as well. Somehow, over the course of the game, the burden of the sadness lifted. It is still a hard time of year for me. I find myself almost ignoring the approach of father’s day as a defense mechanism and I still find myself shying away from soccer practise, but somehow the weight of that sadness is gone.

Four years later I still miss my father everyday… but four years later I look forward to England’s next match. My England flag will replace our Canadian flag on the lawn for the duration of the World Cup in tribute to my father and I will enjoy the games with the full knowledge that honouring my father in my heart will keep him with me; for this World Cup and for all those to come.

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2 Responses to A bittersweet World Cup

  1. Divawrites says:

    My father has been dead 20 years. Every year, we watched the Dofasco Chorus from Hamilton on Christmas Eve. He grew up with a number of them and he liked to watch to see them. My mom and I continue the tradition, although I have no idea who these people are.Watching Remembrance Day services from Ottawa is likewise bittersweet. It was a family ritual. Sad is okay. It means you remember.

  2. cpm says:

    Your father sounds like a wonderful man! How nice that your memories are still so vivid and that the traditions live on! <3

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