Difficult Sunday for us old guys
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
“Youth is not a time of life but a state of mind … a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.”
– Robert F. Kennedy
One of my favorite authors, Frank McCourt, passed away on Sunday, July 19, after a bout with cancer. McCourt was an excellent writer and a beloved character. It was sad to hear the news.
That same morning, Lance Armstrong, looking tired and leg weary, could do nothing but watch as his rival, Spaniard Alberto Contador, rose from his bicycle seat and danced with ease up the steep slopes of the Alps to a ski station in Verbier, Switzerland, leaving the 37-year-old Armstrong well in his wake and all but laying to rest the seven-time champion’s dream of another yellow jersey in the Tour De France.
I was hoping for Armstrong to be out front and lead the way, as he’d always done in the past.
Not this time.
A little before noon the same day, I felt my heart sink when 59-year-old Tom Watson missed a hand-jittering putt for par in Turnberry, Scotland. That shot would have given him a sixth British Open title.
Watching the clock strike midnight on Watson’s magical run was hard to take. Through the years, Watson has been one of golf’s true gentlemen. I was rooting for him to win, as was an entire generation.
For McCourt, who spent 30 years teaching English in New York City high schools, fame didn’t come until post-retirement, when he wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, “Angela’s Ashes.”
In his later years, McCourt was fond of saying that he turned his nose up at F. Scott Fitzgerald’s notion that “there are no second acts in American lives.”
When the initial disappointment of the day had faded, I realized there was a silver lining to it all, one that far outweighed the sadness. These three men, by refusing to live what McCourt calls “a one-act existence,” had served as an inspiration to many, even if for just one day, regardless of whether it be in victory, defeat, or simply the written word. They proved that youth really can be as much a state of mind as it is a place in time.
I wouldn’t doubt that Armstrong already has designs on how he’s going to try and win the 2010 Tour or that Tom Watson will probably soon start to formulate another game plan for St. Andrews at next year’s British Open.
Maybe the day wasn’t a total loss after all.
Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Post Independent
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