Friday, November 29, 2013

Sepia Saturday: A Nod to Movember

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt picturing a mustached swimmer with his trophies pays homage to the “Movember” efforts to raise awareness of men’s health issues.  This November Matt Lauer and Al Roker of the “Today” show grew beards in support. They even agreed to have prostate exams live on national television because prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and second most common cause of cancer-related deaths.

Prostate cancer is one of several cancers my dad had to deal with (although it’s not what killed him).  But you would never have known it.  In fact, Momma made everyone promise to pretend we didn’t know.  Daddy put on a brave face and kept to his regular routines, ever on the go.  I don’t know if he was embarrassed or just didn’t want us to worry.  So pretend, we did. 

However, it was difficult to fake nonchalance during the summer of 1998.  My daughter’s Little League Fastpitch Softball team had won the district tournament and then traveled to Gainesville for the Virginia State Tournament.   Daddy was undergoing radiation treatments at the time; nevertheless, he drove three hours to Gainesville and then back home almost every day just to watch her play.  I knew the trip was especially hard on him, but I couldn’t let on.

Fred Slade and John Bell Virginia State Little League Tournament
My dad (left) probably discussing strategy
with Coach John Bell.  No doubt Daddy once
again argued against the sac bunt.

Our team won the State Tournament qualifying them for the regional tournament.  They won that one too which meant a berth in the World Series at Louisville, Kentucky where any dreams of a national title were quickly dashed. 

But back home the friends and family of our Little League were still very proud of our first State win, quite an accomplishment for a league that was a mere three years old.  So how does a League reward its All Stars? 

Western Branch Little League
Virginia State and Region 4 Champions

With a party and trophies.

The League bought BIG trophies for the girls to thank them for bringing home some recognition at last and giving the League some clout in the local district.  Not surprisingly, Daddy was there for the party to see that granddaughter get her trophy.

Maybe it is the awareness of one’s own mortality that makes a cancer victim determined to be a cancer survivor.   In my dad’s case, his presence at the tournament was really no different from his behavior in healthier days.  My parents were always their grandchildren’s biggest cheerleaders, never missing a game or performance if they could help it.  Still I wonder if that pesky cancer didn’t amplify the urgency to be there to see the winning pitcher in her glory.

Where trophies go to die -- a big bin in the garage

For more stories and photos of moustaches and trophies, please visit my friends at Sepia Saturday.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Perhaps that collection of old trophies could be recycled into new awards or even artistic sculptures. I'd give you a trophy for this blog post, Wendy. Every family needs a principal cheer leader and your dad was clearly a first rate fan.

  2. Brave man to tackle cancer in that way. My trophies haven't made it to the garage yet - but my golf clubs have!

  3. We've kept the most important trophies Kit and I and the kids have won, but when we moved 3 years ago after 28 years in the same house (!) I took many of the smaller ones to the local trophy shop to be recycled. Now I'm looking for a spot to display the ones left rather than leave them in a box in the attic. Yes, & we still need to hang up most of our pictures. You might say we procrastinate a bit. Nice post & nice tribute to you father. My dad had prostate cancer too. He was prescribed female hormones as treatment & the thing he was most worried about was the possibility of his voice becoming higher pitched. I never noticed that it did, however. His was a fast moving form of that particular cancer, however, & he just made it past his 72nd birthday. Way too young!

  4. Congrats to your daughter and her team for their accomplishment--even if those well-wishes are 15 years late! That is a fantastic accomplishment. I had a nephew whose team went that same route--only to have their hopes almost immediately dashed upon their first few games in the World Series. Just to have qualified to be there, though, is an accomplishment to be proud of!

    And your dad--a hero in his own right--exhibited a bravery that no one would even have known. Just because you knew, though you weren't "supposed to," makes you a hero in a way, too. Cancer is a hard game to win.

    Your last photograph is one I should frame. It gives me the fortitude to wipe out those guilt feelings over those trophies I still keep on the shelves. They served their purpose at the time. Our kids have all--somehow--managed to grow up and turn into really neat, fun, accomplished people in their own right. Sometimes, it's just time to move on.

    1. It was brave of your Dad to tackle his cancer in that way, probably hoping it would just go away without others knowing. All my kids' trophies are stashed in named containers up in the attic, just in case at some future date they want to show them to their future children. I couldn't just throw them out, but right now they are out of sight, out of mind!

  5. I'll bet that pesky cancer played a part in not wanting to miss out on anything - especially the winning pitcher!

  6. My dad made his own 'trophy room' - erecting a shelf all around the second toilet room! He proudly displays his many bowls trophies up on those shelves. We all have a good chuckle about it when we visit.
    Dads and grand-dads: every daughter and granddaughter's heroes!

  7. yeah, Daddy hated the bunt!

    He was brave and truly a good soul. Our kids are so lucky to have had Momma and Daddy.

  8. Your dad must have been an amazing man.

  9. Love the Dead Trophy Bin...kind of like the Death Drawer in my refrigerator (you know, where old cucumbers die...)! And your father? Well, that's what family is all about now, isn't it? Good for him, good for you.

  10. Your dad sounds like he was an amazing man. ♥

  11. Your father was a wonderful grandfather. Driving six hours a day while undergoing radiation treatments!! Such devotion. The big bin of trophies speaks oceans about your family.

  12. Ahhh, trophies. We just found a gazillion of them as we cleaned out my mom's house. So important at the time and as the years go on, less and less so. How wonderful that your parents were able to see so many of your kids' activities.

  13. This blog post is a perfect example of a family history snippet or anecdote, recorded for future reference.

  14. Wow! Your dad was a real trouper (and a wonderful grandpa) driving all that way during his radiation treatments!

    Congrats to your daughter for winning the State and Regional tournaments. What awesome accomplishments!