This is the most difficult column I will ever have to write. It is a tribute to my dying wife. Although it is heart wrenching to put these thoughts into words, it is something I want to do. She is in the final days, or possibly even hours, of a 22-month battle with an opponent that is seldom overcome, cancer.
Over the last nine years, she has endured being the wife of an obsessed sports fan. I know it hasnt always been easy for her, yet never once have I ever heard her complain. She has put up with my weekly bowling nights, golf outings, fishing trips, etc., etc. She has suffered through countless stories about every hole of golf my buddies and I have ever played. She has prepared Sunday meals, so they could be served at half time. Weve rushed home from numerous non-sports-related events, so I wouldnt have to miss an opening kick-off. There have been many nights weve spent watching a game together, when Im sure shed have preferred a movie.
Shes not only graciously allowed me to pursue this passion; shes even gone so far as to encourage it. Even though it meant giving up our Saturday night dates, shes the one who urged me to take my former job at the Rockford Speedway. She sensed how important it was to me. Shes agreed to proofread many of the stories Ive written for this column; and as embarrassing as it might be to admit it, shes found plenty of mistakes. Thanks to her, Ive been able to correct many of them before youve been able to read them.
Shes tolerated my sports memorabilia cluttering the den. Im sure this would not have been her first choice when it came to decorating. My closet is filled with numerous Bears sweatshirts and golf shirts because she never let a season go by without making sure I had new ones to wear.
Even though she hasnt shared this same obsession I have, shes accompanied me to countless games. One of the fondest memories I have about going to a game together is a lengthy drive to Knoxville, Tenn., to attend a college football game. When we finally arrived at the game, I was thrilled to be seated 35 rows up on the 50-yard line in the historic Neyland Stadium. She couldnt have cared less; but once again, she did it for me.
Amy, as you enter this final leg of your journey here on earth, I thank you for the many wonderful memories weve made. Youve been an inspiration to many throughout your struggle. Your memory will live on through our beautiful daughter. I love you, and I will miss you. I know someday Ill see you again. Thank you for being my partner in the most important game of alllife!
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2006, issue