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.