We just enjoyed a rare opportunity that was on my bucket list, even though I didn't realize it.
It began innocently enough. As Ken learned more and more about Templar history in Scotland, he became eager to discover that he had Scottish roots. His quest coincided with some genealogy research I was doing on his family, and one day: Voila! A MacFarlane link was made. A few months later he connected with members of Clan MacFarlane at the Stone Mountain Highland Games in Atlanta, and joined the clan community on facebook.
Through that facebook connection he has become acquainted with a number of others "of his ilk," several of whom will join us at the end of May at the Glasgow, Kentucky Highland games where we are serving as hosts of the Clan MacFarlane tent (via Clan MacFarlane Worldwide, Inc., another story).
Now the story gets interesting. Saturday morning Ken gets a phone call from one of his clan brethren who will be part of the "tent crew." Bill and his companion, Susan, are en route to Nashville for the women's Final Four basketball tournament, staying at a hotel in a city not far from us. Would we like to meet for lunch?
A break from yard work becomes a time to freshen up, and before long we're heading to a local restaurant to meet. It turns out that Susan's granddaughter plays on the University of Maryland team, slated to meet Notre Dame that night on the basketball court. These are exciting times for the family, and the energy at lunch is contagious. We bid farewell in time for Bill and Susan to check in at the hotel and don their Maryland attire before heading downtown for the game.
Now two degrees of separation removed from one of the night's games, we decided we'd tune in and cheer for Maryland, lending support to our new "in real life" friends. Alas for Maryland, it wasn't their night, and just as we were offering our armchair assessment of the game and getting ready to switch gears for the next one, my phone rang. It was Susan.
"Since we won't be using our tickets for the finals on Tuesday, would you like them?" I didn't hesitate. "That would be great!" At this point we didn't know who would meet Notre Dame in the finals, but the Stanford/UConn game was a matter of hours from being decided. As a Connecticut native and long-time fan of the Lady Huskies basketball team, the opportunity to be at that game was a God-given miracle. (Only days before, I had expressed a desire to go to the game, recognizing the rare opportunity to see UConn play here in Nashville. Knowing that we could never afford the tickets, it was a short-lived wish.)
We don't watch much basketball. Ken never played or had much exposure to it, so it doesn't interest him. I generally watch when a UConn game is being aired locally, which isn't all that often. Neither of us knew what to expect being at a live game at this level.
Let me just say that it was incredible. We didn't watch the images on the jumbotron hanging over center court. We watched the live action from our seats in the rafters (not a complaint about the location--I share it as a way to share that even from that distance watching the players, themselves, was the best way to enjoy the game). Seeing each play unfold within the visual context of the whole court, rather than the limited view chosen by TV officianados, made all the difference in the world. And I was cheering surrounded by other Huskie fans as opposed to the isolated confines of the couch. I kept pinching myself, in a virtual way, knowing what a gift had been given to me to witness not just UConn in the NCAA finals, but setting records as they did so. It was historic all the way around, and I am deeply, deeply grateful to include the experience in my memory banks. Thank you, Bill and Susan!
I thought of my dad as we were leaving the arena, knowing how happy this night would have made him, and imagined him yodeling with enthusiasm (he was a good yodeler, even to the last). So I guess I'll dedicate this extraordinary night of the fulfillment of an unbirthed dream to him. I guess I also need to think about what other sorts of experiences might need to find their way to my bucket list.