The "Game of the Century" is always a bittersweet memory for me. Mike had several retired farmer uncles nearby who were happy to come over and help during planting/ harvesting. One of these was Uncle Henry, who seemed to be always available when we needed him. Aunt Laura often babysat Ann and they were both very special to us.
Since their family lived on either coast, we invited them for Thanksgiving dinner that year. During the afternoon, Henry and I did some playful betting on that evening's game. He took the Sooners, I stayed loyal to the Huskers. Whoever lost had to take the other one out to dinner.
Well, you know how it went. I had not even called to tease him about our "date" when we learned he had had a heart attack and was in the hospital.
We already had tickets to the Orange Bowl by then. We prayed he would rally and come home again. Christmas came, and he was still there. My Mom and my sis were here for Christmas, and they took the two little girls home with them. We left that evening yet, to get a few miles shaved off.
We were close to St. Joe in Missouri when we decided to find a motel. The days were long, and it was definitely not interstate all the way. Sue and Jon had a ball holding up Go Big Red signs as other Nebraska cars went by.
We arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina, and stayed one night with our best man, Duane. Then, it was on to brother Jim's house in South Carolina. He was out to sea, but Linda took good care of us. We stayed in Orlando one night and then headed south.
Friend Janice had spent Christmas with her in-laws. She left her two boys in that motel, where we met them and took over the rooms. We spent the afternoon at the beach and when it was time to get out, Jon did not want to.
We were tired when we went to bed on New Year's Eve, and the phone woke us the next morning. Uncle Henry had just died. It made for a somber breakfast.
We got dressed and got on the turnpike headed for Miami. As we got closer, the traffic was picking up. Mike definitely was not used to this kind of driving, but we all helped navigate. (Grin)
We had our original block of four tickets, and the two Janice purchased for her kids. So, Mike took the three boys and headed for their seats, and Sue and I went to the other two seats. Remember, this was well before cell phone.
We thoroughly enjoyed the game, especially because there were two noisy Notre Dame guys in front of us. They got quiet after the first punt return, and we didn't hear much after that.
Somehow, when we left the stadium, (this was the old one, in the Spanish area) I lost my sense of direction to the car! Sue told me just the other day she can still remember that. But we stumbled around and found Mike and the boys and got back safely to that motel.
On the way home, because we had four hungry kids along, we stopped at a lot of Kentucky Fried Chickens or other fast franchises. You can imagine.
We did not have the opportunity for a final goodbye to Uncle Henry, or even attend his funeral. We think he would have forgiven us. But as I said, even after fifty years, I remember it all.