This seems be happening far too often lately — the bereavement post in lieu of a regular strip.
Yesterday my Aunt Lorraine passed away. She was my favorite aunt by far. And because my childhood and my family are, like yours I'm sure as well, rooted so deeply in that amalgam of nostalgia, sports, Boston, love, and profound memories that help defines our adult selves, I felt it appropriate to share this with all of you.
My Aunt Lorraine was not only my favorite aunt but was also the biggest Boston Bruins fan I've known.
While I had the honor of entering the hallowed ground of Fenway for the first time with my dad, my first trip to the Garden, the real one, to see the Big Bad Bruins of the early 70s was with my aunt and uncle, who were season ticket holders.
Also, in the pre cable days of antennae on roofs struggling to bring in the snowy reception of UHF Channel 38 some 80 miles away, my aunt and uncle were the first ones to have the technological breakthrough known as "the rotor." Do you remember those?
Where at my own house (actually a trailer in those days, yes, we were poor) getting Channel 38 to come in was a hit and miss proposition, mostly miss, except on the most clearest and coldest nights, at my aunt and uncle's it was a different story — simply turn that rotor dial (which sometimes sparked) and wait for the heavy, retro electronic sound of the "Chug Chug Chug" as the motor on the antenna swung into place, and, voila, live from the Montreal Forum via WSBK. To me this was as cool as the moon landings.
But as much as a fan of the Boston Bruins that my Aunt Lorraine was, she was an even bigger fan of number four, Bobby Orr.
How big of a Bobby Orr fan was she? Well, she sold my Uncle on the idea of going to see Team Canada vs Team USSR in Moscow, yes, La Série du Siècle, the "Friendship Series," and one of the greatest sporting events of all time.
Now today going to Russia isn't that big a deal, but this was 19 friggin 72! The Cold War, Brezhnev, only four years removed from the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
At that time I had never known anyone who'd even been off the North American continent, let alone the USSR. Heck, I hadn't even known anyone who'd flown on a jet airplane.
I can remember sitting on the living room floor playing with my toy Boeing 707 while my uncle, an engineer, gave me wonderful details about the thrust of the 707 on takeoff while my Aunt Lorraine told me of the onion domes of the Kremlin and the vibe in the Luzhniki Ice Palace, and also of her profound disappointment that Bobby Orr was unable to skate up due to injury.
As I look back at the moment now with the clairvoyance that comes with time passed, I can see that it was one of those watershed moments of childhood, for it was right then that I first realized that really anything is possible. You may live in a small New England town with one grocery store and an outdoor ice rink, but if you wanted to you could go to the Luzhniki Ice Palace or anywhere else your heart desires.
From the trip as well, my Aunt Lorraine brought me a lapel pin with the Canadian and USSR flags intertwined over the label MOCKBA '72. To this day, it is one of my most cherished possessions.
I am saddened that she is gone. I am saddened even more that it is only now, in her passing, and writing the memorial words above down that I've taken the time to reflect on these memories and experiences of my Aunt Lorraine and how they have impacted me.
"Death sets a thing significant
The eye had hurried by"*
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