Sometimes you receive blessings that take a lifetime to realize. The beginning days of hockey are just like this – you rush, and drive, and cheer, and plan, and bottle drive, and fundraise, and pack snacks and extra tape and a first aid kit and try to foresee in advance everything you need to prepare to navigate the hockey season … and that is with only one kid in the program. Your travel revolves around hockey games, your budget around equipment and sticks and fees, and your friends around team families.
The hockey smell takes a life of its own in a heated garage. You learn quickly to never leave skates and gloves inside a car with sunshine beating down. Washing jerseys and equipment finds a regular spot in the laundry rotation and there are just some smells that linger regardless of what you do to get rid of them.
The skate sharper professional becomes your go-to errand on the way home from work. You are thankful for the player’s siblings. They are willing to spend their time at the rink, hanging out and cheering for their favorite player. Simply because “we are a hockey family and hockey is our way of life”.
And soon your kid is driving and you are no longer at the practices and they are bussed and you meet them at the rink and the realization hits that “this is just the beginning of the end” and you wonder what you will do with your weekends, and how you will meet friends, and your heart breaks a little bit because independence has replaced dependence.
You are unintentionally now on the outside looking in. But, if you are lucky, the passion will pass onto the next generation. Once again, you will travel and cheer and tell everyone about your grandchild and their team. That crack in your heart will scar over with love for that little soul whose jersey hangs to their knees and ankles wobble as they scurry down the ice. It is when you realize the full magnitude of the blessings of this wonderful game.