Lost Journal: Mother Fills Empty Nest with Larry Bird

Journal entry: December 27, 1989 (age 20) – Empty Nest

Something is terribly wrong with my mother.

I’m home on Christmas break from SUNY Oswego, and I was out with some of my childhood chums tonight. When I returned to the house, I heard loud bellowing from the basement. I cracked the door at the top of the stairs, and heard strange, foreign utterances in a voice that did and didn’t sound like my mom: “Go for the three, Dennis! Oh, come on, Kevin, bang those boards!”

I crept down the stairs, and saw that Mom was alone in the room, yelling at the television. My father can sleep through anything, and tonight he was proving it. Without looking at me, Mom intoned, “I’ll talk to you during the next commercial – Boston is in overtime.” I made use of the time by checking the furnace room and garage for signs of the slimy alien pod that had invaded, snatched Mom’s body, and replaced her with a sports fanatic. “You stink, ref,” she barked.

My mother never used to pay attention to sports. I suppose raising six boys left little time for poring over box scores. Now that I think about it, she did like to watch my older brothers play CYO basketball. Years later, all her sons are out of the house, and the empty nest has been filled – by Larry Bird. Mom knows all about the NBA – the players, the rules, and the lingo. She’s a very sharp lady, so it doesn’t surprise me that she picked it up so quickly. But yelling at inanimate objects? As a non-sports guy, that’s always mystified me. And as much as I reject this in intellectual terms, there’s something emasculating about the fact that my mother knows more about sports than I do.

Tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings went into overtime. I sat and watched the final minutes with Mom. She clapped, booed, shouted and got out of her seat a few times. I nodded blankly as she stated that the Celts needed to “shut down the fast break.” When a commercial came on, she immediately transformed back into the woman I thought I knew. She asked after each of my friends by name, and chastised me for going out “without a hat!”

When the game returned, so did the were-fan. Her shoulders hunched, her jaw jutted out, and I thought I saw her eyes change from brown to kelly green. I did notice that Mom wasn’t rooting against one particular Sacramento player, and I asked her why. “That’s Danny Ainge – he used to play for the Celtics,” she explained. “Plus, he’s cute.” I asked her when Ainge had been traded, but she shushed me sharply. The clock was winding down, and she needed to focus.

Mom shouted in triumph when Boston eked out a 115-112 win. She slumped back in her recliner with a big smile on her face. “That was exciting,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll be able to get to sleep now.” On her way up the stairs in her nightgown and slippers, she stopped and looked at me. “Did you get any dinner tonight, sweetie? I can make you some leftovers.”

Tim Mollen
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