Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twin PactTwin Pact by Eleanor C. Horner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Starts With a Suicide . . . Ends With a ??
This story follows all the rules of good storytelling and I was riveted from the first page. Told from the perspective of a 24 year-old woman, she copes with the aftermath of her twin sister's very public and quite spectacular suicide. Margaret (Maggie) and Michelle (Shell) were identical, mirror-image twins who shared a life and a language, and even though they had been apart physically as young adults (one in NY and one in LA), in spirit they were inseparable.

The surviving twin, Maggie, is a Juilliard-trained violinist. She uses lyrical reference to disclose her feelings about her sister, an accomplished artist, and the suicide. The author writes in present tense to follow Maggie from LA, where her sister lived, to Moon, Alaska, where she intends to spread her sister's ashes. Connected so closely with her sister, Maggie appears to believe that her own suicide is now in order and she plans it. The author switches to past tense throughout Maggie's journey to tell a series of anecdotal stories about the twins' life together growing up. We come to know the twins intimately and they are fascinating. With each page I fell more in love with them and wondered and worried, would Maggie follow suit and commit her own suicide? I turned pages at rapid rate to find out.

Unfortunately, the version I read had an inordinate number of typos; however, I must say, the writing was so good and the story so powerful that I wasn't distracted by them. I mention it only because material this good demands a decent copy editor prior to its next printing.

Very well done and I highly recommend this book to readers looking for strong storytelling and character development.

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Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Gift of RainThe Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written story about love and loyalty, friendship and family. Set during World War II amid the Japanese occupation of Malaya, there is a rich blend of cultures and conflicts, personal and global. The narrator, Philip, is a child of dual heritage (British and Chinese) who recounts his struggle to find his place in a chaotic world. From a vantage point some 50 years after the War, he explains his past actions leading to his decisions to work with the Japanese to a friend of his former sensei, Endo-san. Philip exhibits such detailed and vivid descriptions—sights, sounds, smells, feelings—that the reader forgets he is relating from memory.

Ultimately Philip learns to “accept that there are things in this world we can never explain and life will be understandable. That is the irony of life. It is also the beauty of it.” He also learns to understand why, at an early age, a fortune-teller said he was born with the “gift of rain.” The rains (monsoons) figure prominently throughout the landscape of the story.

I highly recommend this book.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How Was Your Summer?

Since I returned to Tucson, the number one question I’ve been asked is, of course, “How was your summer?” Even though my high school student is practically at first quarter midterm, summer is still very much in progress for our family, and half my brain remains in the woods at a resort that’s in full swing.

I’m still on central time, which is why I’m typing this at 4am, and responding to emails to keep up with the paperwork.  So trust, it’s hard to answer the question “How was your summer?” in the past tense.

It’s the same every year during the last month of summer— when my husband and I perform a tag-team operation holding down forts in two states, which is a choice we made some 17 years ago. Yes, it’s complicated. No, it’s not easy. But I’m not complaining. We are blessed and we know it. And we’re proud of ourselves for making this work.

Sometimes I wonder, would I do it again? 
Scoff. That’s a stupid question.

Meantime, when I do answer the “How was your summer?” question beyond a “it was fine, how was yours?” response, the first word that comes to mind is “destructive.”

The resort experiences a lot of wear-and-tear each summer, but this season it seemed concentrated. And I’ve got the pictures to prove it. Here’s just a few:

Cookie sheet used over camp fire?
Hit by a school bus bringing in campers

20-somethings idea of washing the dishes
Stovetop burnerplate

Paddleboat graveyard

Ripped RAVE trampoline--destroyed

One week of garbage for a 2-bedroom/4-person unit

Destructive. Need I say more?

Monday, May 13, 2013

In Our Mothers’ Names

Each year as part of our Mother’s Day celebration, St. Alban’s parishioners donate bags of food in our mothers’ names. The Monday following Mother’s Day, we deliver these bags to our Tucson neighbors.

Today was the first time I participated in the delivery.

Willow's truck: Part of the 277-bag load
Willow was not available to make the trip, as she’s finishing up her last few hours of high school classes; but she loaned us her big, green truck. She told me there was “plenty of gas” to get from home to the church and then to South Tucson, however, the minute I got behind the wheel and turned down the country music, I noticed the gas needle in the red. 

It was the perfect illustration of the difference between a teenager’s interpretation of “plenty of gas” vs. a mother’s.  So, her truck donation proved to be a perk since I stopped and filled up the tank. (It should get her through the rest of her high school career).

We had a small army of volunteers at the church loading trucks and cars with canned and dry goods. In total we counted 277 bags. Then we paraded from our serene Foothills location, southwest to the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen at 352 E. 25th Street.

Once we arrived, it took less than half the time to unload the bags as it did to load them. We had a lot of help.

Brian Flagg runs the Casa Maria operation, which consists of several small buildings each serving a purpose to help those in need. We literally filled one of the houses with our bags, and this house was across the street from the Señora de Guadalupe y Cocina Gratis. Other members of the Casa Maria staff live nearby, including Flagg, who opens his home to provide showers.

Flagg has a long history of social and community activism. When I shook his hand and looked into his eyes, I was bathed in his kindness and warmth. This is a man who clearly walks-the-walk.

St. Alban's Fr. Bruce with Brian Flagg of Casa Maria
Casa Maria serves 500-650 bag lunches plus soup, and also distributes 250 family bags per day. Flagg says they help to feed at least 1,000 per day. And by the way, he’s been at this for 30 years and pays himself $10/week.

According to the U.S. Border Beat newsletter, Casa Maria Catholic Worker House also provides medical aid and legal services, and offers United States citizenship classes in Spanish.

Willow only has a couple weeks left in Tucson before heading to her future in Wisconsin. She’s got a calendar full of activities leading up to graduation and more party and event invitations than we can count. But now that she’s got a truck full of gas, I hope we can find a few hours one morning to make it back to South Tucson to volunteer our time by the side of Brian Flagg. He said they need volunteers every morning between 8:30-10:00 a.m.

I believe exposing her to this operation would be the most valuable graduation gift I could give her.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Prom Queens vs. Academics:
A Soccer Mom’s Dirty Laundry

Last Sunday, the soccer team I manage, the first place seed in the state championship tournament, qualified for the semi-final game. It was immediately brought to my attention that this game, scheduled for the following Saturday morning, conflicted with the plans of several of our players taking the SAT exam.

TVSC 95 Girls Blue "Samba": U-18 Division 1 State Semi-finalists
Therefore, I checked the Arizona Youth Soccer Association (AYSA) website to read the rules about rescheduling games. It listed SAT/ACT exams as the number one priority. Next, I informed our coach and we approached the coach of our semi-final opponents, who had just won their semi-finalist spot on the field next to us. This coach had no problem moving the game to an afternoon start time. I told them I’d call the AYSA on Monday morning to request the change.

I did. The AYSA administrator told me to put the request in writing, and to include the reason and that we had already discussed the change with the opposing team. By the way, it’s a tough opponent with a current state rank of #3. We are ranked #13 (in spite of our seeding in the tournament). We need all our players.

Monday afternoon we received notice that the game was rescheduled to 1:50 p.m. Although this time would only give our test-takers one hour and 20 minutes from test end to game start, we were thankful for the change. We understood our players would be late to the field (it’s a 1.5 hour drive from Tucson to Casa Grande/ Grande Sports Complex), and that they’d have no warm-up; however, we were willing to accept this compromise.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end with this compromise. The next day, Tuesday, I received an email asking if we could change the game to Friday night in Phoenix. I knew we were unavailable because, for one, our team captain was performing in a school play—the drama department’s senior swan song—and several of our girls planned to attend. Then I received an email asking how many of our girls were taking the SAT. I responded, “four.”

On Wednesday, I received yet another email indicating that the game had been rescheduled again. It was moved to a 12:45 start. I had to read the email twice to make sure I was reading correctly.

How could this be? It meant that our test-takers would be lucky to make it to the field for maybe the last 15 minutes of the 90-minute game. And this scenario meant they’d need to put down their pencils, grab their soccer bags, change in the car and have their drivers speed up I-10 with a prayer that the Interstate corridor connecting Tucson and Phoenix, which is often plagued with roll-overs, fender-benders and haboobs (!) would be traffic jam free.

In other words, a 12:45 start time was NOT a workable option for us. So, before I sent word to the team, I called the AYSA office to find out why the game had been rescheduled again.

Did I get a straight answer? Absolutely not. You’d think I had asked this administrator to reveal her weight. Or her politics? Her views on the death penalty or abortion? What ensued was a crazy, even shocking conversation.

This is how I worded my inquiry: “I just received word about the U-18 game being rescheduled again and before I inform the team, I’d like to be able to tell them the reason why it was changed.”

This is the response I received: “It was a compromise. All the U-17 and U-18 games needed to be rescheduled for a variety of reasons, and we did our best to accommodate the most people. There wasn’t an easy way to do it without impacting someone.”

I reminded her that the first change was a compromise for us and that it had an impact. I added that the new change was unworkable, and then asked again: “Would you please tell me the specific reason that our game was changed?”

Obviously, I pressed a button that switched on this woman’s defenses. She immediately went on the attack. First she told me that I was the ONLY one who wasn’t accepting this current compromise. Given that I called her about 15 minutes after receiving the change I was surprised that she had already heard from EVERY OTHER manager, coach, player and parent affected. But I let that slide. I repeated the question until I finally got her to say that the opposing team had five players going to prom that evening.

Yes, she said “prom.”

Samba Goes to the Prom
Now believe me, I understand that prom is important to U-17 and U-18 girls and I also understand that after ACT/SAT exams and coaches with multiple teams/conflicts, consideration of proms ranks #3 on the list of priorities for rescheduling consideration. What I didn’t understand was, why would a game scheduled for 1:50 p.m. (90 minutes of play plus 10-minutes halftime break) affect girls attending a prom that evening? Yes, they faced a one-hour drive from field to salon, but is that still not enough time to get their hair and nails done and enjoy the full evening?

Samba Goes to the Prom
In Tucson, our proms began at 7:30 p.m. Those attending the pre-prom dinner we hosted arrived at 6pm. I realize it takes some girls longer to get ready than others, however, if you can’t accomplish this in 2.5 hours, something’s wrong. It’s not the Oscars for pity’s sake!

“What time does their prom start?” I asked the administrator.

“Photos begin at 4pm,” she said.


Yes, photos. I had to refer to the AYSA priority list again for rescheduling:


You can see for yourself, there’s NO mention of prom PHOTOS.

“So let me get this straight,” I said. “The answer to my question regarding the specific reason the game was changed was that the team we’re playing has prom photos and that prom photos took priority over the SAT exam?”

She would not admit this and I understand why. It was TOO ridiculous.

“Look,” she said, “Everyone needs to compromise. You’ll just have to accept that your girls will arrive late but it evens out because their girls will need to leave early.”

Even more ridiculous. I was supposed to accept that our girls would miss most of the game AND believe that the other team’s coach was going to let five of his girls leave the state semi-finals early in order to primp for prom? 

On what planet?

I wish I could say it ended there. I figured this was going to be my last call ever to the AYSA so I might as well make the most of it. I kept trying to get her to answer my question—to admit specifically why the AYSA made this scheduling decision— and she amped up her personal attack.

I think it’s fair to say that this woman CRACKED. She called me “pitiful.” She suggested that I (and my team) “are always crying ‘poor-poor me’ and the ‘AYSA is always out to get me!’ ” She said I was spinning the situation to be in line with my consistent claims that the AYSA is always treating our team unfairly.

“Really?” I asked? “You’re really going to insult me like this instead of simply answer my question?“ I told her she didn’t know me nor did she seem to understand our team’s history and the problems we’ve faced with scheduling games with this league.

“Oh we ALL know who you are,” she spit . . .

She went on to hurl insults not worth repeating because she was clearly confused, highly stressed and unable to face the consequences of her actions. Not only did she not follow the rules of the AYSA, but also she was so caught up in defending her actions that I can only conclude she was guilty of giving preferential treatment to the Phoenix-based team. That’s an obvious no-no she wasn’t going to admit.

Instead she opted to take the avenue of turning the situation on me by insulting me, and accusing me of being uncompromising and pitiful.  In some circles, that’s called “victim blaming.”

It was difficult to keep my composure, but I did.  Yes, I was upset on behalf of my team; however, I knew I was perfectly within my rights to have made that call, and I believed my team deserved an honest explanation.

Further, I knew the administrator with whom I was speaking had faced a very difficult task and obviously had a lot of pressure from parents calling in on behalf of their daughters’ upcoming photo sessions. I understood she had a lot more people with whom she had to deal than I, and I didn’t envy her for this job. It was clear to me that she was unable to properly handle the pressure in a professional manner.

A wise person once told me: “There will always be someone who is worse off than you.” That is a certain truth. And on that afternoon it was this AYSA administrator.

I ended the conversation by saying that since I managed a U-18 team it would be the last time she had to deal with this pitiful, uncompromising person—me—and also said, for the record, that I was very disappointed in her language and her unprofessional demeanor.

“Well, I’m sorry you feel that way,” she said sarcastically.

Clearly, she wasn’t the least bit sorry.

I contacted the parents of players planning to take the SAT and they all opted to reschedule the exam (it’s a $20 fee) because it was the only workable option for our team.

So, we found a way to make this situation work because we are neither pitiful nor uncompromising. On the contrary.

I’d like to point out that I believe my job as a manager is to A: understand the problem, and then B: Find a way to solve the problem. We accomplished this as a team, and the result is that none of our girls will be late for the game on Saturday.

Meanwhile I wonder, will the prom girls on the opposing team still leave early?

You can BET I’ll be watching.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Nasty Neighbor Needs to Chill

I really don’t want to fan the flames of the lunatic fringe, but right now I’ve got a slow burn going and frankly, I’m pretty pissed. I have been forced to tolerate the bullshit antics of some of our neighbors for over 16 years, and finally, I’m saying ENOUGH!

We’ve had a volatile road situation surrounding our small neighborhood, which we’ve known about since the day we took ownership of this house. We hadn’t even made our first trip from Wisconsin to live in this place when one neighbor called to explain his side of the situation and attempt to rally our support.

It was a disturbing phone call. “Welcome to the neighborhood and we want you to side with us on the road issue.” Since it was impossible to fully understand the issue, and we didn’t intend to move into our new house for months, all I could say to him was that we’d have to at least wait until we arrived in Tucson to check all the facts for ourselves.

In brief, on the south end of our property, there is a 30-foot easement from the fence line bordering a large area of undeveloped land. There wasn’t a road there when we first came; however, we understood this easement marked an ingress/egress from the west in order to access a still undeveloped parcel to the east.

The man who called us, owner of the house to the west of us, apparently ignored the easement when he built his house, and had not only a wall on the easement, but also the corner of his family room. Naturally, he wanted to do everything possible to prevent a road from going in there. He and his neighbor to the west, who also had a wall and a corral built into the easement, campaigned to move the ingress/egress to a different location, a utility easement from the north.

And that made them the Hatfields and all the homeowners to the north of us with properties backing up to the utility easement the McCoys. Since we lived on the corner, I suppose they thought we were the swing vote.

Fast forward eight years or so with both of the original Hatfields gone and two of McCoys gone, the property behind us develops and the road goes in on the legal ingress/egress. Our new neighbors to the west, who as it turns out were misinformed—told by the real estate agent selling both properties that the easement was only 15-feet on their side of the fence—are stunned by the notices they receive to move their development in the easement. (Apparently they took the word of the agent and failed to check the deed or title report). Nevertheless, they strike compromises with the developer in order to keep, in one case, the violating wall and in another, their living room.

Then the first house goes up on the newly developed property. Turns out this new homeowner wants all 30-feet of the road easement cleared and accessible, and we all receive letters from his attorney informing us of what needed to be moved.

For us it was only a matter of relocating a propane tank because they were worried about their elderly in-law hitting it with her car (!) Naturally we thought that if there were truly a danger of her hitting that tank, perhaps she shouldn’t be driving? Regardless, it was easy for us to move it and we did.

The battle between the rest of them went on for years and culminated in a lawsuit. Saguaros were relocated, a beautiful natural mesquite removed and I don’t even know what else happened in court other than the emergence of a new Hatfield in a previously uninvolved household, who moved into the neighborhood believing, for some reason, that this dirt road (not his legal ingress/egress) belonged to him.

And he became the neighborhood bully.

Metal Speed Bump, 17' width
He put down a lot of dusty stones, narrowed the road to 15 to 17 feet, erected crappy metal speed bumps, and installed video surveillance to monitor all traffic going by. He then chose to harass drivers who have the nerve to use this road and called the sheriff’s department to file complaints in order to intimidate and prevent people from driving by his house.

He did that to us today. He called my home and informed me that “my daughter purposefully spun out her wheels” in front of his house and that he was planning to call the sheriff to file “a harassment charge” against her. He said he had “evidence of her action on surveillance cameras.” 

My daughter claimed that the tire on her pickup spun on the rocks as she crossed one of the crappy speed bumps, and that she didn’t do anything on purpose, nor did she have any reason to do so.

He was having none of it, and told me I needed to be a better parent and “parent her correctly” so she didn’t drive down that road.

Road narrowed to 15' at this makeshift speed bump
“You have some nerve,” I said. “Don’t ever call here again.” And I promptly hung up the phone.

The smiling sheriff was soon at our front door, informing us of the complaint and also informing us that the sheriff’s office couldn’t do anything about it but deliver the message. For half a minute I thought about filing a counter complaint because . . . if this harassment charge isn’t an example of the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is.  

We have every right to drive on this road. And if any of our vehicles respond to his crappy speed bumps or a little extra oomph is needed to get the tires over them, well that’s his fault, not ours.

But I simply cannot stoop to this person’s level.  And given his volatile and explosive behavior in the past, I don’t want my children anywhere near him! And that’s because I AM a good parent and I AM parenting correctly. We have another legal ingress/egress road that no one minds if we use.

I don’t care if this means he “wins.” It may be the only pleasure this man receives in what is, perhaps, a very sad existence.

Don't run or walk behind my house!
Meanwhile, regarding the other easement, the one from the north originally protected by the McCoys, I wonder what I need to do to deal with the idiot on the far northeast end who blocked all access with wire fencing and “no trespassing” signs behind his yard’s back wall. It has blocked my regular running route, one I’ve used daily for the past 16 years.

Like I said, I’ve had enough of this ridiculous, selfish and intimidating behavior on behalf of people who are supposed to be our neighbors. If they don’t want anyone running by or driving past their precious properties, why did they move to this neighborhood in the first place?

Shouldn’t they have settled for forty acres and a mule some place without people?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tucson Foodies: Have You Heard About Alfonso?

I’m not truly comfortable with the term “foodie;” however, since I’ve been one for the past 15 months or so, I suppose I should embrace it. Regardless, before I bury the lead and go off on a tangent, I will stress that today’s blog is about Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil & Balsamics, located at St. Philips Plaza off River and Campbell in Tucson.

Alfonso is a one-of-a-kind shopping (and tasting) experience. And whether or not you're familiar with the term “foodie,” IF YOU COOK and you live in Tucson, pay attention: Do yourself a favor and visit this shop.

Tom Alfonso, owner, Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil & Balsamics
I’ve been meaning to go to Alfonso for months, ever since my childhood friend, Cindy Ridings, recommended it. And today was the day. This olive oil and balsamic vinegar boutique is located across town—on a route I normally take for my weekend trips out of town to Phoenix. But generally speaking, it’s in the fertile, gourmet heart of Tucson. It’s not that far from the Tanque Verde Valley nor from anywhere in the beloved cowtown we call Tucson.

Today was the day because A: I made the time and couldn’t take the distressing news out of Boston another minute; and B: The owner, Tom Alfonso, at the prompting of Mrs. Ridings, generously offered to help support the Sabino Volleyball program with purchases made at his shop.

Give me a cause to support and I WILL make the trip.

In this case, however, I intend to become a regular customer of this special destination. Alfonso is one of those places that appeals to a multitude of senses—aka, MY, and I’ll bet YOUR foodie senses.

From the outside, St. Philips Plaza is classy and exclusive. Step into the Plaza and you’ll find the shop immediately, which is located next to the popular restaurant, Vivace

Enter Alfonso, and the subtle aromas of the oils and balsamics are immediately tempting. The backdrop colors—olive green, deep purple—reflect the bottled products and the sophisticated tasting apparatuses lining the walls. The shop is neither overcrowded nor stuffed with product, and I was immediately greeted and made to feel comfortable.

I told Mr. Alfonso I was a balsamics novice and therefore hoped to learn more about them. Within moments, he handed me a small cup of his traditional style balsamic, and upon tasting, I’m not kidding, my taste buds ZINGGED out of control. This is touted as his “finest grade,” aged 18 years and it pairs well with any of the oils in his collection. It made me want to taste samples of everything on the walls! And trust, there are PLENTY of varietals from which to choose, on both the balsamic side and the oil side of the display.

Ultimately I chose the  “TRADITIONAL Balsamic Vinegar” and the “Organic Tuscan Herb Infused Olive Oil.” I felt that was a good place to start. And I suspect I won’t wait long before I’m back for the “Tangerine Balsamic Vinegar.”

If you cook with olive oil (honestly, WHO DOESN’T?) and have any interest in balsamic vinegars for marinades, salad dressings, or as I learned today, so much more, Alfonso is a gift. And the staff will help you realize this.

4320 N. Campbell Avenue, Suite 40, Tucson, AZ   85718. 520-441-9081.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review: Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany

Best Kept SecretBest Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Human Condition: One Woman’s Story
This story covers a relatively short period of time in a woman’s life. Best Kept Secret reveals the secret of alcoholism and illustrates the sneaky spiral, the dire consequences and hopeful path to recovery. It is well written and brave; however, I felt it lacked a certain edge that for me made it stand out as unique and groundbreaking.

But that may be the point. The main character, Cadence, is every woman. She’s bright, beautiful, educated, witty, likeable and sympathetic. She marries a man who seems to be her equal at first, but is ultimately portrayed as a selfish and harshly judgmental mama’s boy. The birth of their son, naturally, changes the dynamic of their relationship. And as Cadence’s fear of not-being-good-enough (what new mother doesn’t feel this?) ultimately leads to gaining comfort from ever increasing glasses of red wine, her world falls apart.

I found Cadence to be the only really likable character. The others--husband, mother-in-law, sister, son, counselor, partners in recovery--are either self-serving jerks or too underdeveloped to matter. The story focuses everything on Cadence and keeps one reading only to find out whether or not she triumphs in the end.

I recommend this book to young mothers struggling with mommy-n-me groups who drink wine rather than coffee or tea while their children play, or anyone who drinks in secret and thinks she doesn’t really have a problem. Reading about the fate of Cadence may help the reader come to terms with alcohol addiction and hopefully choose the path to recovery.

If, however, you’re looking for a more brutally honest depiction of the alcoholic spiral that truly helps one to understand the nature and experience of this disease, I recommend Drinking, A Love Story by Carolyn Knapp.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 25, 2013

ACL Diary: The Sequel

This morning, as I do every morning, I stepped outside barefooted to collect the newspaper. I read the front page headlines and then opened the Sports section—again, something I do every morning—to check the high school soccer scores and stats. The only game in which I was truly interested was the one I had already witnessed and knew the outcome.

January 25, 2013 AZ Daily Star 
I read the cold, hard stats without emotion:

The brief statistics didn’t come close to relaying the true story of that game. There was no accompanying article, and even if there were, no reporter but I could tell it in a way that might capture the essence of what happened from our perspective.

It was a big game—Senior Night for Sabino’s five seniors with lots of balloons and flowers and posters and smiles for the camera. And it was the last game of the regular season, a rematch with a rival played two weeks ago that ended in a 1-1 tie before overtime saw yet another victory for the state champions three-years running, the Cat Foothills Falcons.

Senior Night Swag
Sabino went into last night’s game missing three key players, one with a head-injury, one with a broken back, and one with a cold. Nevertheless, Coach Lowry switched around a few positions, and the girls played strong in the first half with both respectable shots-on-goal and spectacular saves by junior goalkeeper, Sylvanna Islas. It was 0-0 at the half.

And then late in the second half, senior Willow Cozzens, my darling daughter, twisted her knee and went down in a heap. There was a slight gasp from the stands and I couldn’t help but call out, “No! No! No!” I momentarily tried to shield my eyes from watching her once again reel in pain; however, her coach called my name and waved me to the field. I ran to them at once, knowing in my heart that I was about to face another ACL injury.

I had seen it before. And it was the same.

Her trainer and I helped Willow off the field and as we approached her teammates, their big-eyed expressions and looks of sorrow and concern broke my heart. “No, no, no,” I said again, “Keep going! Be strong and keep playing strong!”

I didn’t pay attention to the rest of the game; however, I did hear and understand that Cat Foothills scored (in the 74th minute according to the paper). Willow’s dad and I made our way around the track but we couldn’t return to the stands. We tried to stay calm and wrap our minds around what had just happened, and it was like wading through a massive haze. Everything in what had been a noisy stadium seemed really quiet.

One-by-one parents approached us and one-by-one we relayed the bad news. Her club coach, her friends, her fans, other parents that love her like a daughter the same way I love their girls, shared our disappointment.

This morning we wonder, was it a stunned and quieted crowd or was it just that haze that shielded us from reality? Did Willow’s injury take the heart out of our team or was it just another Catalina Foothills victory?

Who can say? The loss most likely won’t keep us out of the state tournament; however, it will certainly affect our seeding and we await that posting.

Willow in action prior to injury
We have an appointment with her surgeon on Monday and I’m dreading it.  Willow heard/felt the telltale “pop,” which pretty much guarantees the road ahead to replacement surgery and physical therapy. But this time we know her soccer career is over.

It’s okay. Of course she’s disappointed to miss the state tournament and finish out her final year in club, but she didn’t plan to play soccer at the University of Wisconsin. It will have to be enough that she fought her way back after surgery on the right knee, and that the whole experience helped to build a solid character and both a sense of achievement and humility. We are as proud of her as we can be.

Meanwhile, I can’t help but think about two things her surgeon said to us during the course of her last procedure and recovery. One was regarding his work on her right knee using the hamstring replacement method, “She’ll have a far better chance of tearing her left ACL than she will re-tearing her right with this replacement.” (I wanted to tell him to “shut up!” at the time, and now I could just punch him for being so prophetic!). Secondly, when he ultimately cleared her to play soccer again after five months of intensive physical therapy he said, “Willow, I never want to see you again.”

Well, sorry to disobey doctor’s orders, but Dr. Tucker, we’ll see you on Monday.