Lifelong quest ends with a father-son hug at the Super Bowl

A dreaded word surfaced at my Mill Creek home. My husband, Chuck, said it reverently, like “I love you” or “Pizza.”

The word: “Arizona.”

Another Super Bowl next year in Phoenix? Give me strength. My life has been on hold, officially since August, as the Seattle Seahawks began their march to fame.

Yes, it was a war. Life and death. Every. Single. Game.

The team was supposed to have a marvelous winning season and my family, as well as fans around the Northwest and the world, watched each miraculous play.

I thought life would get back to normal after we became world champions. Chuck wouldn’t need to be on beastly edge all week long. Conversations wouldn’t all start with a foot and end with a ball.

We are charter Seahawks season ticket holders. We bought seats in 1976, the year our son, Brody, was born. We sat in the nosebleed section of the Kingdome, in the rain at Husky Stadium, upgrading to front row-seats at CenturyLink Field.

Chuck and Brody were there in February 2006 in freezing Detroit when the Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first Seahawks Super Bowl appearance. On the way to Michigan, Brody put Chuck in first class, where he sat next to Michael Jackson’s dad. They rubbed elbows at the game with members of the Black Eyed Peas.

When Brody took his dad to the Michigan game, I thought that generous act would never be repeated. How much can a son do for a father?

Brody and his wife, Lisa, were invited to this year’s Super Bowl as guests of a corporate sponsor. Get this: They bought game seats, airline tickets and hotel rooms for both of their dads. We also were called by the Seahawks in a “second-chance” ticket lottery and let friends buy those seats.

Chuck couldn’t thank the kids enough. Seeing the Hawks win put everyone on Cloud 12.

In New York, Brody and Lisa attended VIP parties with football stars including A.J. Green, John Lynch, Marcus Allen, Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman, Marshall Faulk, Tiki Barber, “RG3,” Larry Fitzgerald and Barry Sanders, as well as tennis goddess Serena Williams.

Chuck met Cooper Manning, Peyton’s older brother, in an elevator. Brody was photographed sparring with UFC fighter Jon “Bones” Jones. Lisa met Saints quarterback Drew Brees and former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka.

Chuck talked to movie star Jamie Foxx — a sweet man, Chuck said — as they entered the stadium.

Part of their group ate at Katz Delicatessen, where the famous scene from “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed. They had dumplings in Chinatown and paid $12 for one beer at their Trump SoHo Hotel bar.

Brody said getting to the game was amazing. His sponsor provided buses that scooted along with a police escort. They arrived in New Jersey for the game in half an hour while others waited two hours to cram into a subway.

Snow delayed flights home. Chuck lugged a suitcase stuffed with swag for family and friends, including Super Bowl magnets, wrist bands, programs, mini footballs, beads and shirts. Chuck’s gem of a find — given to him by a hotel volunteer — was a sterling silver Super Bowl lapel pin. It’s proudly attached to Chuck’s adored Doug Baldwin, Number 89, jersey.

Brody said there were striking moments before and after the game. From his club seats, he scanned the end zones, looking for his pop.

“I finally saw him, standing up, holding his 12th Man flag,” my son said. “I told everybody that was my dad.”

A gentleman sitting by Brody overheard one side of the father-son phone conversation that followed. The man said that hearing their sweet chat was a memory he won’t forget.

“That is what it was about,” Brody said. “The connection between families and sports.”

Brody said his other thrill came after the game. As he waited to board the bus to go back to New York from the stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., jubilant fans screamed all around him. Brody leaned left and right to spot his dad.

When their eyes locked, Chuck dropped his bag and sprang to reach his son’s outstretched arms.

“The old man doesn’t move like he used to,” Brody said. “It was the duck run.”

They grabbed one another and hugged it out as they savored the victorious end to their lifelong quest.

That would be a beautiful ending to a story about fulfilled bucket lists and father-son adoration.

But next year looms.

Former Herald columnist Kristi O’Harran doesn’t like airplanes or crowds. She likes email and would be happy to hear from readers at starlite68@hotmail.com.

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