It's funny how the physical objects around us can get us to thinking.
Now that another college football season is upon us, I splurged on a University of South Carolina baseball cap to show my team loyalty. This is the one I chose:
I've cheered for Carolina teams since I was a boy, long before I did my graduate work there (and far too often been poorly rewarded for my loyalty, but that's another story). Hope springs eternal in the Gamecock fan's breast however. This might just be the year the football team or the basketball team or the baseball team or the women's track and field team or somebody does great things.
When the cap arrived yesterday I wore it with great pride, but it reminded me that I had a similar one for Auburn University, my Dad's alma mater, a cap very much like this one:
Towards the end of his life, I noticed that Dad had taken to wearing a baseball cap whenever he drove to keep the sun out of his eyes. He was wearing a generic baseball cap he'd gotten from somewhere (the USC bookstore if I remember correctly). Two Christmases before he died of cancer, I gave him an Auburn cap. He smiled and thanked me. Later I learned that he wore it whenever he drove until he was no longer able to drive. After Dad's funeral, my brother Allen asked me if I would like to have the cap and I have kept it ever since.
Dad was never a big sports fan. Normally he paid very little attention to Auburn athleticsuntil perhaps the annual weekend that Auburn played Alabama. When I rediscovered the cap, however, I couldn't stop thinking about him. I found Auburn's fight song on the internet and have been listening to it almost compulsively. I'll keep an eye on how the Auburn Tigers (Clemson Tigers = BAD! Auburn Tigers = GOOD!) do this year, even as I'm cheering on my Gamecocks. And should Auburn triumph over Alabama, you will hear a rousing cry of WAAAAAAR EAGLE!" from this direction.
Miss you, Dad.