Monthly Archives: June 2015

Old friends — 2015.3

The late-60’s song Old Friends never fails to bring me near tears. But as I’m closer to the “terribly strange of seventy” than I’d like to think about, the song now vividly reminds of the riches in friendships that last decades.

A couple months ago, a woman I worked with — about 30 years ago, when Peter and I lived in Seattle — “found me,” not via Facebook or in some other techno way, but instead by asking about us at the local Ace Hardware and calling me out of the blue on the phone. It was so fun to reconnect! She was in the Tetons visiting her mom, and we had a good chance for catch up on the decades and miles between us.

Renee sounded exactly as I remember her — and well, of course she did! I love that, even as we age and our physicality changes, whether due to wrinkles, weight or hair color, our voices, expressions and mannerisms stay the same.

A week ago, I spent a fabulous day with another old friend, from even farther back (i.e., my cast year in Up With People, 1973-74). Pam and I have been in closer touch more recently — an absolutely wonderful rekindling of our relationship and much of it online — but that certainly didn’t diminish our quality personal time together on a sunny early-summer Sunday…

Well, just this morning I heard from another UWP castmate. She happens to be coming to Philadelphia — where I’m working remotely this week — for a conference. I haven’t seen Mary since 2011 at an Uppie reunion in Colorado, and I can’t wait to see her again.

It’s a long way from her home in Alaska and mine in Idaho, but what a wonderful coincidence that we happen to be here, on the far side of the country, at the same time. Whoohoo!

While the Simon and Garfunkel song is sometimes heartbreakingly poignant, the reality of old friends is a sweet and special treasure.

UWP pic in Breck -- Mary and PamThis pic is from our cast reunion in Breckenridge four years ago (Pam in yellow, Mary in red)! Looking forward to seeing many of them at UWP’s 50th, in Orlando later this summer. Unfortunately, Rufus Barkley, the fellow I’m standing by (back row) passed away about six weeks after we were together — another vivid reminder that life is precious and we never know what tomorrow will bring.


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Watching the ball game — 2015.6

dad as ref

One year for his birthday, Judy found Dad a ref shirt — he loved it! This is one of our all-time favorite photos of him.

Growing up, it was almost a religious rite to “watch the ball game” at our house. That comes from a sports-crazy dad with three daughters (whose initials were the same as Baltimore Colts’ star Johnny Unitas) and no sons to push from the sidelines. It’s not that we weren’t athletic — all three of us played something competitive in high school and Judy co-majored in Phys Ed in college — but from an early age, we learned that when there was a ball game on the TV, well, we’d likely be watching it.

OK, I must admit, it was mostly certain kinds of sporting events — and we also attended plenty in person. We rarely missed anything played by the University of Wyoming and never stuff at our high school, the now-gone Cheyenne St. Mary’s. But mostly, on a staticy black and white televsion, we watched both football and basketball.

Our dear grandmother, Mimi, was a huge baseball fan — she followed the Kansas City A’s closer than her soap operas (and that was pretty darn close!) But baseball wasn’t *it* at home. Honestly, tennis was not a ball game; neither was golf. And although we went to a hockey game in Denver once, neither was hockey — it just didn’t quite enter into the Uphoff consciousness.

But the pros rated — think Denver Broncos, primarily — and of course the big events like the NBA finals, the Super Bowl, and March Madness (did they even call it that then?)

A lot of history behind this family tradition…. for example, Dad was the president of the Cheyenne Quarterback Club when we were kids. While Joan and I were visiting Judy recently, we found a letter signed by six Green Bay Packer star football players (Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Boyd Dowler, etc.), from when they’d visited Cheyenne in the early 1960s. Dad had arranged the whole thing! What a treasure!

But we knew it wasn’t about winning. We learned to cheer for our favorite teams even when they were on a losing streak….  And that seemed to be the case more often than not. In the early 1970s, St. Mary’s struggled on just about any kind of playing field. The Gaels once lost a football game to Torrington, by a score of something like 96-6 — how sweet it was when we came back and beat Douglas for our first victory in several seasons (and then were undefeated my junior year in high school!)

My mom was such a good sport, too. She was the best escort for football tours. And for us kids, she took care of us when injured, made cheerleader uniforms, baked countless chocolate sheet cakes for bus trips, put up with tears about boyfriends being hurt before Homecoming dances, etc.  She ultimately said she “couldn’t stand the excitement” of a close game — but boy, dad always loved ’em.

So tonight, when the Golden State Warriors are playing Game 2 against the Cleveland Caveliers, and a few days before the 24th anniversary of my dad’s passing — I’m thinking about “watching the ball game,” Uphoff style.

Even today, when one of my sister use that expression, I know EXACTLY what she means.

Here at our home in the Tetons, we’re not quite as crazy about it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think of this family ritual fondly. I stay aware of what’s on, and check for the final score — if only to check in with my siblings and keep my father’s memory alive.


PS. For those of you who watch such things, I still have posts for 2015.3, 2015.4 and 2015.5 to write.  Don’t worry, they’re coming 🙂


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