Today was magic and I swear I'm getting special treatment in this life. I'm going to say my thanks tonight for sure.
The public is allowed to walk down the tunnel to the edge of the field at Notre Dame on Fridays before game day, then turn around and walk back up to real life again. Period. Of course, if you have one of the sold-out tickets, you can sit in the grandstand and watch the games on this sacred ground.
Today, I walked on the football field at Notre Dame.
I happened upon a second wedding group who were going to have their pictures taken on the field. The groom surely must have been or is a Fighting Irish player. So there I was...looking down the tunnel at the green carpet of grass that was the FIELD. I could almost smell it. The gate keeper...the one with the padlocks and big shoulders...was standing right next to me as I stared downed the tunnel. "What are the chances of letting an old lady walk down there and touch that grass?", I asked. I was used to negatives...I had already tried my luck at Augusta. But, lo and behold he said I could if I walked right down, looked and came immediately back...or he'd call the police! I swear I almost kissed him! A couple and their two sons were standing next to me and he said they could go down too. So today, big wishes came through for more than just brides!
I walked the campus, and again was lucky as the Basilica was between weddings (there were three scheduled for today!), so several of us were able to enter. It would have been a disappointment to have missed seeing the interior. It is truly magnificent and so reminiscent of cathedrals and churches in France.
From Notre Dame I drove just a couple of miles to downtown South Bend where the College Football Hall of Fame is located.
My mother went to Cal and my parents had season tickets every year for our family. So from age 6 to 13 I went to the Cal home games and became a loyal fan. After every game we (hundreds of fans) would wait at the front of the stadium and chant: Pappy...Pappy...Pappy until our coach, Pappy Waldorf, would come out on the balcony and wave to all of us. Sometimes he gave a brief speech, but mainly he just let the fans show their appreciation and how much he was revered. I thought he was the most important person in the world.
Len Casanova was a personal friend of our family from the late 1930's. He was the coach at Oregon when I attended the school and two years ago on my maiden trip in my 5th wheel, I visited Oregon and spent time in the memorial the school has created for him. The prime parking space at the Casanova Athletic Center is posted with a sign: Reserved for Len Casanova. He, however, passed away in 2002.
Both of these coaches were in the College Football Hall of Fame. That made my day.