For the first time in almost two decades, the San Francisco 49ers are going to the Super Bowl.
Their win against the Atlanta Falcons wasn't necessarily pretty, but it is a win, and it sends the Niners to New Orleans in two weeks for their sixth franchise visit to the big game.
Mom and I watched today--I was mostly in my bedroom so I could keep up with Facebook and Twitter at the same time, though I spent plenty of time dashing out to the living room to commiserate with Mom, to jump up and down, to scream a little, and to jokingly offer her antacids or an adult beverage.
I couldn't help but think back to my earliest days as a Niner fan, back when Grandma and Grandpa Bean were alive, and we all watched together. My grandparents were big fans of the San Francisco teams, and their enthusiasm rubbed off on Mom, and then, of course, on Aaron and me. I most likely witnessed The Catch, though I don't remember it. I remember, very well, The Catch 2. Mom had given up on the game--only 8 seconds left, the Niners down. She went in the kitchen but came dashing back to the living room when I started screaming like a fool. We both witnessed The Catch 3, during last year's playoffs, which brought be back to watching the Niners full-time, knowing that this year had to be the year they made it back to the Super Bowl.
Names like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were commonly mentioned in our house. We loved Roger Craig and Tom Rathman, Terrell Owens and Steve Young. We loathed the Dallas Cowboys and feared them until that magical NFC Championship game in 1994, when Steve Young finally shook the devil off his shoulder and got his own Super Bowl ring.
We laughed at memories of Grandma, cheering her team on, making cracks like, "I'd run, too, if he were after me!" as we watched William "The Refrigerator" Perry chase down one of our guys. Hysterical laughter would burst forth whenever one of us--usually Aaron--brought up our favorite stupid football joke: an on-field penalty for "unnecessary flatulence."
Seeing the 49ers return to their former glory brings back so much of that magic, the memories of great football, but more importantly, my beloved family.
Grandma and Grandpa are gone, and Aaron has a life and family in Idaho. These days, I watch with Mom, or by myself. Still, 49er football is something I have that keeps me feeling close to a brother I'm otherwise so different from, and I know in the next week or so, our postcards back and forth will discuss the game and our happiness that our favorite team is going to the big game.
Here's to family, and to great memories. Here's to a great football team, and more memories to be made.