Ordinarily we use this space to describe one of the many hundreds of games in our collection of program covers. But when we ran across this story of Mrs. Suzan McClelland in today’s New York Times, we thought we’d share some of it with you instead. The article was entitled “Passion Plays —- College Football Rules The Land In The South” written by Brett Michael Dykes.
Mr. Dykes’ article begins, “In the event that you, dear reader, need any further convincing of just how seriously SEC country takes football, consider this: While I was standing along the brick partition that separates the spectators in the stands from the field inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, casually watching the team practice while eavesdropping on a conversation to my left . . . a woman with a face as sweet as a red velvet cupcake sidled up next to me. Her name was Suzan McClelland.
“The 69-year-old McClelland had left her home in Prattville, Ala., that morning and made the two-hour drive to the stadium in Tuscaloosa with her husband, John (Field) McClelland, riding shotgun. It was a trip, she said, “very reminiscent of the many trips we’ve made together to attend games over the years” as longtime Alabama season-ticket holders. John was alive for those trips. As Suzan navigated her car through rural Alabama this time, however, only her recently deceased husband’s cremated remains, along with a photograph of him, rested in the passenger seat beside her.”
After meeting up with her brother for lunch, the two of them arrived at the recently held Fan day, carrying her late husband’s ashes in her pants pockets. The two of them walked down to the front of the practice field, where Ms. McClelland, “clearly a bit frightened, but determined”, emptied John’s remains on the field.
When Mr. Dykes, who had been right next to them, asked Suzan and her brother if she had indeed done what it looked like she had, she explained that it had been her husband’s dying wish to spread his ashes onto the sacred grounds, and “I didn’t want him to haunt me for the rest of my life if I didn’t do it.”
After the couple had left the field, Mr. Dykes found an online obituary of John McClelland on his phone. It was like all the other obituaries in the paper that day, except that it ended with these two words in all capital letters: “ROLL TIDE!”
Mrs. McClelland, you are truly a woman after our own heart. We hadn’t read about a fan with such devotion to Alabama football since the day in 1954 when benchwarmer Tommy Lewis raced from the sideline in the Cotton Bowl to tackle a Rice player who was headed for a touchdown. Lewis’s only excuse that day was “I’m just too full of Bama”, and it looks as if he’s found a soulmate in Mrs. Suzan McClelland.
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