When we were younger we knew one thing for sure.
If you wanted grandma's attention, you didn't go to her house when the Cubs or the Bears were playing.
It's not that she was rude about it; she was just completely engrossed.
With time, her focus on the game was even more intense.
Age had claimed most of her eyesight and much of her hearing.
By then, she had moved from Illinois to Arizona and had added the Diamondbacks and Cardinals to her list.
And what a fan she was.
When my brother was honored to throw out the opening pitch to a Diamondbacks home game; for the occasion, we were privileged with a stadium suite.
From the front of the suite we could see him hurl the ball toward home plate.
Behind us was grandma.
She was at the back of the suite- standing on a chair- a few inches from the TV set.
This would be her preferred distance... as it was the only way to catch a fuzzy version of the action.
A couple years ago Grandma was in a unique situation.
Her beloved Bears were headed to the Superbowl.
She was recovering from a sudden illness that had become life-threatening.
She told us she would be watching the game.
The doctors publicly admired her resolve; behind the scenes they let us know time was not on her side.
Her condition worsening, the hospital could do little for her; it became time to transfer her to a hospice.
With the Superbowl several days off we rooted for one more thing.
... that being time.
Time to say our last goodbyes.
Time to wait for her lucid moments where she could recall her childhood with remarkable clarity.
In those last hours grandma opened up a treasure trove of memories for us to experience.
And she spoke of the Bears and their big game that was coming up.
It was remarkable that she made it to Sunday.
She spent most of the day in the final throes... she would retreat to a deep slumber and then would awake and ask, "Is the game on yet?" ... We'd tell her, "not yet" and she'd slip ever closer to destiny.
Grandma made it to the game.
Unable to see it, she could hear it.
Is this really the final scene you'd pick for your elders?
Sitting by a bed- with a football game blasting?
Yet it seemed so right.
We took turns holding her hand... and providing game updates.
The Bears didn't win the championship.
And grandma left us that evening.
"It's only a game" they say.
And, for many, that may be true.
But they don't know my grandma.
If ever I feel an obligation too large, or a task that feels impossible, I will forever think of her...
...and how, in her final days, she defied the odds... and lived for the Bears.
Were it not for the game we'd have missed many days of memories.
A few more hugs.
And her winning smile.
There's a game on soon Grandma... I don't know if you have special viewing arrangements... but this time it's the Cardinals... I'll be thinking of you.