Last weekend outside of Oxford, traffic came to a standstill as thousands of motorists were driving into town to see the Ole Miss – Mississippi State football game. Cindy, daughter Travis and I, were part of the brigade. During the past 20 years, I have attended only three Ole Miss football games, and up until this past weekend, I had never attended an Ole Miss – Mississippi State match. So, we were all pretty excited about going to the game.
We finally inched our way into Oxford and parked near the stadium. We then headed to the Grove where much has changed since my last walk-through there. We ran into several friends from the Delta, and I also stumbled upon a group of KA fraternity brothers I had not seen since graduating from Ole Miss in 1984.
It was good seeing those guys, and it seemed as though it was just yesterday we were all together. We spent time going through the last 28 years and catching up on each other’s lives. Some were a little grayer, some a little heavier, but still the same group of guys with whom I had spent some of the best years of my life. Cindy, Travis, and I then made our way to the stadium, slowly walking with the thousands who were also headed in the same direction.
The gatekeepers stamped our tickets at the northwest corner of the first level, an area of the stadium I know very well. When I was Travis’ age (10), at halftime the Ole Miss football team would enter their dressing room at this location. My father always made certain I was standing there so I could watch the team leave the field and enter their dressing room.
You could hear the team coming a long time before you could actually see them, as the sound echoed throughout the massive concrete structure. The closer the team got to the dressing room, the louder the sound became, and by the time they passed us, I could hardly stand it because I was so excited!
Especially when Archie Manning was playing. Daddy would always shout out to Archie as he jogged by and Archie would give us a quick smile and wave. That was 41 years ago. Now, many years later, I was standing in the exact spot with my ten year old daughter, introducing her to that same tradition.
While we enjoyed the game, the experience of taking my daughter to the Grove for the first time and experiencing all of the sights and sounds of Ole Miss that day was even better. These years are passing by too quickly. We all need to make as many memories with our children as we can, and I’m thankful for that cold, sunny day in Oxford last weekend where some old memories were relived and some new memories were made.