There are certain threads that weave in and out of a Father’s Path, pockets of space in time that connect and transform. These are the moments when both familiarity and change get along just fine and remind us that nothing stands still. With the boys, so many of these rituals have centered on passions that do not wane: the beach, playing catch, a really good meal, and, of course, the Carolina Hurricanes.
The ritual of the sports season runs parallel with the path. It changes, evolves, rises and falls and brings moments of elation and bitter disappointment. There is promise and all the unseen qualities of faith, hope, and love that inspire a well-lived life.
The boys remember 2006. “The Hat” is in retirement. But it’s enduring qualities serve as a reminder of connection, loyalty, and the pinnacle of a group of “boys” playing the same sport since they could don skates, touching the oldest and most prized trophy in all of sports.
On some level, it’s not about the sport. It’s not about winning and losing, or money and prizes, or competing and entertainment. There are certain rituals that are signposts in lives and relationships. Sitting on the couch or in the stands with two boys becoming men is as good as it gets. Tousling their hair in the early years when the Canes score, or patting their shoulders which have risen above my own, or the harmony or a whoop or a sigh. It is both predictable and not. And it breathes life into this aging fatherly frame. And time disappears.
It’s been 13 years since the boys hoisted the Stanley Cup, and the ritual extends even longer counting the days leading up to that moment. You never forget; the ritual makes sure of this.
If you are a father, then the son is still a part of your story, still reminding you of the connections of the roots and ashes of generations. At some point on the path, the heartache and the heartfelt of these connections is neither good nor bad. It just is. And it is in this widened space you can make sense of the meaning of rituals. I remember sitting in the bleachers of Yankee stadium, listening to the Bronx Bombers on an old transistor radio with my dad. I remember how special it felt, and how confusing it was when these moments fell into the darkness of nothing in common. The ritual was gone and the threads unraveled.
I remember a time when playing catch mattered, just as much as putting on the blades up in colder climes. Rituals connect. It doesn’t matter if it’s the smack of leather or frozen fingers on frozen laces. Or fishing lines, walks in the park or riding in the front seat. Or sharing space and stories as we hope that it matters as much to the Canes as it does to us. All in. Yes, we are all in. Just like the ritual, rooted in the trinity of faith, hope, and love.