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Every athlete should know his source of strength

His room is all boy. Major is only eight, but he’s already seeing life through a sports lens. The snap-on basketball goal that has a one-sided lean hangs on his closet door. His slam-dunk practices make a familiar rattle throughout the house, and they make it often. A variety of footballs take up most of his toy trunk space.

A corner hamper that Katie encourages him to keep dirty clothes in has more soiled team jerseys, practice uniforms and athletic socks than other clothing items. His dad’s, two grandads’ and great-granddaddy’s college letters hang in frames on one of his walls, reminding him that sports represent an important part of his heritage.

His dresser usually displays its contents with its half-closed drawers, but athletes have more important things to do than keep a neat room. Bunk beds stack against another wall. The top bed is primarily used by James, his little brother, and it’s not for sleeping but to watch Major put on slam-dunk demonstrations.

Major sleeps on the bottom bunk along with a favorite blanket and a couple of stuffed animals. I’ve noticed that on recent visits those frayed animals and blanket are more often found under his bed than sharing the covers with him. I know it’s a part of the growth cycle, but the nostalgia of migrating from childhood never relinquishes its emotion.

On our last visit to Birmingham, we were able to watch each of the four grands participate in his and her chosen sports. By the end of the week I was wishing for my own set of cleats and a stack of energy bars. Life, like in every other household in their neighborhood, is running on overdrive.

In fact, the only real down time is just before the kids go to bed. I enjoy making bedtime rounds and having brief end-of-the-day sharing times with them.

Last week, Katie and Eli took a quick trip out of town and left Othel and me to be parents for a couple of days. All I can say is praise God for a detailed schedule that Katie left us. We successfully completed each day’s assignments but definitely exhausted our “senior” endurance.

On one of those nights, I was tucking Major in bed and knelt down close to him. He asked when his parents would be home. I sensed a bit of those nighttime, missing-mom-and-dad visitors and shared a few brief stories about his daddy when he was Major’s age. After I prayed and before I turned off the lamp light, he asked, “Mama C, would you sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ with me?”

That was a first. I ignored the reality that I can’t sing “worth a lick” and that this seemed an unusual request. We joined in the universal fact set to music and didn’t miss a note. It brought comfort to a young, aspiring athlete and immeasurable pleasure to his grandmother. Every athlete should be so knowledgeable wherein real strength lies. As for me, I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a lovelier duet. 

Letters to Camille Anding can be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS, 39602, or e-mailed to camille@datalane.net.