Around the bend: Thrilling moments


I am an emotionalist/sentimentalist, thrill of victory/agony of defeat kind of person.

Here are some special thrills that readily come to mind, ever satisfying to recall.

Joan Benoit wins the marathon at the 1980 Olympics. I turned on the tv and there she was, way in the lead going into the stadium!!  That tough little runner from Maine. Far behind her was the much esteemed, now deceased, Grete Waitz who seemed to graciously accept that it was Joan’s day.

David Jansen wins the 1,500 Olympic speed skating. In the previous Olympics, David Jansen feel twice in races.  His sister had died just days before.  It was a heartbreaker on the world stage.  He came back four years later after all that training and focus and he fell again.  Just too much. He had one more chance, the 1500 meters. We held our breaths. He won and set a world’s record. As a writer put it, "His tortuous journey was over."

Jennifer Capriati wins three Opens in one year. Jennifer was a cute phenom who as a young teen made the semis of the U.S. Open. She, the student of yet another driven tennis father, had trouble with this status. She plummeted, but, in one of the great comeback stories, she came back several years later to win the French Open twice and the Australian. Each win was a thrill and triumph.

Hayden Barns runs to her parents at summer camp. Hayden, 9, went to summer camp. While we stood waiting for her on an open field, she came sprinting to embrace us. Such a PDA was not the norm for her. It was surprising and thrilling.

Fred Rudolph waves my post card. On our way home, we passed through my college town. I had sent a post card (one of scores over the years) to a college professor friend now in his late 80’s saying that we would be coming through.  It was a salute to him and his wife, Dottie, but we did expect hospitality of which they had offered so much over the years. The Rudolphs had a daily ritual of going to the post office and, then, picking up the NY Times.  Rebecca, my wife, spotted Dottie sitting in her car. We went down to her. I asked if Fred had got my card. "Well, you can ask him. Here he comes." From afar, he did not recognize us at first, but then he smiled and waved my card. A sweet moment. We then had a relaxed visit and there had been no pressure on them to entertain. Less was much more. Not a rush thrill like the above, but a gentle thrill that I can always draw upon.