Other than the occasional comment and "Trip to Mecca" (aka: Gillette) posts, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything on PatsPulpit. Why am I coming out of hiding?
Daughter: Dad, guess what?
Me: Alright, how much do you need? (She IS in college, after all.)
Daughter: No, no. I don’t need any money.
Me: Can I record that and play it back to you sometime?
Daughter: Dad, STOP!!
Me: Ok, what’s up?
Daughter: I’m trying out for the Patriots Cheerleaders!
Me: Expletive, more expletives...and a few tears. Let me explain.
You see, none of this was supposed to happen. Born with Congenital Heart Disease (Aortic Coarctation and Bicuspid Aortic Stenosis), we never thought she’d make it out of the hospital. In the first 10 years of her life, she endured over a dozen balloon dilations and 2 open heart surgeries, the second to replace her faulty aortic valve with a mechanical one; she’s a card carrying member of the "Zipper Club" and has the sternum scar to prove it. We’ve worried through the recoveries, pestered her to take her medication and accompanied her on at least 2 ambulance rides a year for various emergencies (the last one was Pleurisy that was originally diagnosed as a heart attack by the hospital near her school.) Now, at 21, she’s telling us she wants to be a Patriots Cheerleader. Yup, a few tears were shed by yours truly.
Mostly because I really don’t want my baby girl posing for the Calendar. I mean, I’m proud and all, but can’t you wear a turtleneck and jeans or something? Does it have to be a bikini?
So far, she’s attended a Cheerleader Workshop where they essentially find out how much you REALLY want it. NFL cheerleaders are nothing like their younger counterparts in High School and College. There’s virtually no stunting or pyramids; it’s almost all dance or "motions" in cheerleader speak (and yes Marima, SMP and CS, spirit fingers.) During the Workshop, many girls found out just how strong their dance had to be. Out of 80, 40 remained. Those 40 were provided with a personal trainer, Andy, who made their lives a living hell for almost 2 months. Andy posted Youtube videos of workouts and my daughter would play them on her phone while at the College Gym, following along and cussing at Andy the whole time. Andy also provided guidance on their diets and allowed them 2 glasses of red wine a week. Remember, she’s in college. 2 glasses of red wine is usually consumed getting dressed for a dorm party.
I’m very proud of her. Not just because she’s trying out to be a Patriots Cheerleader, but for how much she’s accomplished over her 21 years. She’s had obstacle after obstacle thrown in her way and somehow, managed to navigate around, over or through them. She’s had to grow up fast, very fast, and endure things that babies and children shouldn’t have to. Shouldn’t their childhood be puppy dogs and rainbows? Getting an IV brings tears to my eyes, not because she’s going to be in pain, but because she knows exactly what vein is best. Years of experience...
While sitting in the ICU after her second open heart surgery, a minister stopped by, held her hand and said, "You have an old soul." We’ve often pondered that one, looking at each other knowingly and recalling shared experiences. How else could she have made it through?
Tryouts are Saturday, April 5th. I’ll let you know how it went.