Saturday, May 2, 2009
WHAT A DAY!
Thursday, April 2, 2009 was pure magic for Marisa, Nick and I. There are days when ONE really neat thing happens to make your day special... and sometimes even TWO things... but this day was special from start to finish.
Spring Break '09 had been pleasant, but uneventful. When I found out that Marisa had vacation days scheduled for Thursday and Friday, I suggested that we take Nick to UK and see if we could get his Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks jerseys signed. She liked the idea, as did Nick. Our plan was simple... take lawn chairs, sit outside Wildcat Lodge, and see what happened from there! I warned Nick that we might be unsuccessful, but we'd just try to have a good time anyway. John Calipari had just been introduced as UK’s new basketball coach. If nothing else, we knew there would be excitement in the air!
Just so you know, Patrick Patterson is Nick's favorite UK player, and mine, too. My feelings aren't so much about his basketball abilities, but about Patrick Patterson - the PERSON. He is so nice and polite off the court... so UN-full of himself. He's a special young man- and I know he makes his mama proud. I got the opportunity to take some pictures of Patrick and his teammates last fall at an open practice, and when the Wildcats played at Freedom Hall in December, Nick had the opportunity to share the pictures with them. Patrick sent Nick a really nice letter, and he'll always hold a special place in my heart for taking the time to do so. I wanted to let his mother know how much I appreciate her son, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. It’s hard to explain, but it was just something I really wanted to do. I never dreamed I would get to tell her in person. Now on with the story...
We arrived at Wildcat Lodge about 1:00 p.m., and found a parking space right away. The only problem was we had to "feed the meter," and neither Marisa nor I had any change. According to the maintenance man who was mowing, the nearest place to get change was the student center. Marisa was ready to head out on foot when the UK employee said he'd give her a ride on his cart. ONLY MARISA would be riding in a UK cart 5 minutes after we got there. :) We had just been waiting about 30 minutes when Patrick- all 6'9" of him- came strolling out of the lodge. Being his usual gracious self, he stopped to talk for a minute, and signed Nick's jersey. One down, one to go… and we'd been there less than an hour!
My best friend, Laura, and her son, John, drove over from Georgetown to visit with us for a while. When Laura told John why we were hanging out at Wildcat Lodge, his comment was, "Isn't that a little bit like STALKING?" (I told Patrick when we saw him again later in the day, "We are stalkers, Patrick... but we're NICE stalkers!") In a matter of minutes, John had gotten most of the players to autograph the back of his shirt, and it was obvious that he was a little amazed by what was happening. We were having the best time.
When Jodie Meeks showed up, we got the Meeks jersey signed, took some pictures, and counted the day a success! Nick didn't really want to leave- he'd stay there forever if given the opportunity- but we persuaded him to get in the car, and we headed to the mall to buy a "hot off the press" Calipari tee shirt. Shirts purchased, we stopped to eat dinner before heading home to Elizabethtown. It was about 7:00 and we were almost to the Bluegrass Parkway when my husband called and said according to WHAS radio, Calipari was having his first practice with the team THAT NIGHT. We were doubtful since we’d been there all day and hadn't heard the first word about it, but make no mistake, once Nick (and Marisa) got wind that there was a chance that Coach Cal was on campus, there was NO WAY we were going home. So…we headed back to Wildcat Lodge... and YES he was there, but they were already practicing inside The Joe Craft Center. We might have missed Coach Cal's entrance, but as we all know, what goes in must come out, so nothing would do but to wait. We hadn’t been there more than five minutes when a reporter from WKYT in Lexington pulled up, and asked if we were waiting to see Coach Cal. When we said yes, she asked if we would be willing to be interviewed for the 11 o'clock news. Oh my goodness... it was just icing on the cake! When they found out that we had been there all day, they asked if we would get our lawn chairs out again, and of course we obliged. I finally got around to making my sign, which read:
SPRING BREAK '09
We'd rather be HERE than the beach!
The sign made a big hit, and out came the camera, the lights, and the microphone. Nick was in Wildcat Heaven. Okay... we ALL were! (And YES, we were the lead story on the 11:00 news!) Once they finished taping, we headed down to the Joe Craft Center to wait for Coach Calipari to come out. We waited... and waited ... and waited. There were a few more fans waiting with us at first, but one by one, they gave up and went home. At 10:15 it was just the three of us. That's when I saw a couple leaving the Joe Craft Center and walking right toward us. I asked Nick if he had any idea who it was, and he said, “Mom, I think it’s Patrick's parents.”
I can't be this lucky, I thought. Am I actually going to get to meet Mrs. Patterson? I immediately had a lump in my throat.
Once I got a closer look at the man, there was little doubt that he was Patrick's dad. They walked through the doors, and I seized my opportunity. We had the most wonderful talk. Mrs. Patterson was gracious and kind- just like her son. We exchanged email addresses, took a few pictures, and shared a hug. At that very moment, I saw Coach Cal coming our way. I asked Mrs. Patterson if she thought Nick might have a pretty good chance of getting Coach Cal’s autograph since he probably could tell that she and I were such GOOD friends. She laughed, and said she was pretty sure we would get the autograph. Coach Cal came out the door, read the sign Nick was holding, smiled, and said, "Young man, would you like for me to sign something for you?" Then he suggested I take a picture of the two of them. Of course Auntie Marisa jumped in there, too. I know Coach Calipari was tired, but he UNDERSTANDS, and wasn't about to disappoint a 13-year-old boy who'd been waiting in the rain for two hours to meet the new coach. We took the picture, and then it really was time to go home. Nick was almost asleep by the time we merged onto the Bluegrass, but Marisa asked him a question anyway.
“Nick, what about this day?”
For just a second, I thought he wasn't going to answer, but then a sleepy voice in the backseat said, “Wow.”
Marisa and I exchanged smiles. “Wow” was right. We wouldn’t have traded that day for anything. What a day. What a magical, wonderful, once in a lifetime day.
Note: If you enjoyed the story, you'll probably enjoy the slideshow, too. Just follow the directions in the post below.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I've made a slideshow/video of our special day at UK. If you've read my post above and enjoyed it, I think you'll enjoy the video, as well! If you will scroll up on the right side of this page, you should see DON'T MISS THE SHOW, and underneath that, "What a DAY!" Click on that. In the Photodex browse box, type: photographybystudioc Then, it may want you to install active controlx or something like that. It's easy to do, and HARMLESS! I PROMISE!! Don't give up... the video is worth it!! Just keep saying yes until you see the video. ENJOY!
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I found this picture tonight, and it reminded me of what is REALLY important. Last May, Nick's travel baseball team, the Central Kentucky Legends, played the Crittenden County Rockets in a tournament in Owensboro. It was May 23... the day after Nick turned 13. He stepped up to the plate, and hit his first grand slam. What a belated birthday gift! (Especially for his mom, dad, aunt and uncle!) Later that summer, we played them again. Not long afterwards, we got an email. The Rockets' shortstop, Jake Hodges, had died in his sleep. It hit all of us like a ton of bricks. He hadn't been hit by a line drive... no heart condition... he simply died in his sleep. I still cry when I think about. It was entirely too close to home. My heart breaks when I think about what his family, his friends, his teammates and his coaches have been through. To my knowledge, no reason was ever found. To paraphrase his parents, it was simply time for Jake to go "home." Ironically enough, it was a week or two before his death that Jake hit HIS first grand slam. I will never forget #11... and I don't think Nick will, either. On the Monday following Jake's death, we had a moment of silence in his memory at Nick's baseball game. Minutes later, Nick found a sharpie and wrote God Bless CC Rockets #11 on his helmet. He shouldn't have done it... there isn't supposed to be any writing on the helmets... but then again, 13 year old boys aren't supposed to die in their sleep. Nick made his mama proud that night. We won't forget Jake Hodges. When you hear the crack of a bat, or throw a baseball... say a prayer for those whose lives will never be the same again.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
No electricity at the Carter household last night, so we headed to Mimi and Papa's to watch the UK-Florida game. I hung in there until right after P Pat got hurt... and then I just couldn't take it. So, we loaded up and headed home. I wouldn't even turn on the radio. I knew Nick (who was spending the night at Marisa's because they just HAVE to be together when they watch their CATS) was going to be in a foul mood when he arrived home in the morning. I went to bed not knowing exactly how bad we got beat. :) When Marisa and Nick came in this morning, Nick seemed okay, and I was puzzled, but decided not to bring it up.
Finally, I said, "How much did we lose by?"
Marisa looked at me funny and said, " How much did WHO lose by?"
"OH my goodness, did you not SEE IT?"
Oh ME of little faith! By the way... BLUE is still my favorite color!
Sunday, February 8, 2009
This is Mr. Ron Smalley. I met him yesterday at Nick's basketball game at Severns Valley. As Mr. Smalley slowly passed by our seats, it was evident that his health had been compromised in some way. Mama asked him if he'd had surgery, and the woman with him said that he had injured his carotid artery in Iraq, and as a result, had suffered two strokes. I explained that I was a photographer, and asked if I could take his picture. When I was finished, I sat back down and did a little eavesdropping. He was there to coach the next game, and he was helping some of his players memorize the Bible verse they were to recite before the game. I wish I'd known his story as he passed by me. I would have stood up. Thank you, Mr. Smalley - for all you've given, and all you continue to give. How ironic that your last name would be Smalley. You are anything but small.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
This is my grandmother, Mama Lucy. It was in her attic that I spent many childhood Sunday afternoons. She's been in Heaven for more than 15 years now, but I can still smell her kitchen, taste her (turkey and) dressing, hear her reading Uncle Remus stories with a piece of peppermint in her mouth, and see her nod approvingly, eyes closed, while she listened to her oldest grandchild play something pleasing on the piano. We shared a love for music, family, poetry, affection, humor, animals, and tenderness. I'm so grateful to have had the honor of being her grandchild. She was- she IS- my treasure.