I met a new man this fall.
I didn’t mean to—I certainly wasn’t looking for him—but it happened anyway.
You see, I’ve been with my husband for 26 of my 46 years of life and every single one of those years he’s been a football coach. I dedicated my life to him and around here, fall means football. It’s a family affair.
I have three sons and two of my dresser drawers are filled with team gear.
Our family calendar, which I’ve been creating annually for close to 2 decades always begins with the month of August. That’s when we start measuring time.
My husband has been a high school football coach in Upstate NY since 1997.
This year, all fall sports were reinstated around us except “high risk” sports. No football for us.
Well, that’s when I lost him.
Without the practice planning, team meetings, scout cards, Friday night lights, game film, coaches' meetings, and middle of the night adjustments to the offensive plan, he just sort of disappeared.
I saw him fight all the feelings on his way out: angry, depressed, sad, and lost. There were still athletes to check in on and the coaches text thread blew up 3 or 4 times a day with new Covid numbers, Governor's regulations, and Buffalo Bills news, but he wasn’t the guy I’d always known and I wasn’t sure how to help him.
I missed that guy with the headset on and laminated game plan tucked in the khakis on the sideline too, but he left us this fall.
Soon, I began noticing another man around the house though.
It happened very slowly. At first, he appeared in the recliner on NFL Sundays without his laptop and notebook labeling film on Hudl.
Then, he appeared on a beautiful Saturday afternoon when I was going apple picking by myself in the orchard next to me, and back at home peeling and stirring a pot of homemade applesauce later that afternoon.
This guy looked just like my husband but without the stress and fatigue of football that he usually wears.
My yard started looking amazing, too! This new guy was out there every weekend and sometimes after school—blowing leaves, bagging up sticks, playing with the dogs. It was getting really hard not to fall for this man.
But the weekend that sealed the deal was Columbus Day Weekend.
I had never gone away or enjoyed a three-day-weekend in the fall with my husband before. This year, I found a little place in the Poconos to rent and sent out an SOS to the family for anybody not “in- season” to come with me for a getaway of hiking and relaxing in the mountains.
Not only did all three sons come, but so did this new guy. He came and sat by the fire he made us and went on long hikes to nowhere.
I can honestly say I fell in love hard with this guy.
I know it was just a fleeting affair though. Football will be back and so will my husband, but I’ll never forget this rendezvous with the man that had free time, open weekends, and stress-free Friday nights!
All this time and I didn’t even know he knew how to make homemade applesauce.