to remind me

Sometimes I like to read through my archives.

I don’t do this (just) because of my raging ego.

I like to be reminded of what I was thinking about when I wrote each post.  I like to be reminded of who I was thinking about when I wrote some posts.

I’ve written some (veiled) posts about truly horrible events.

I’ve written some posts about amazing things.  And people.

This post falls in the second category.

Definitely.

Yesterday evening I was crashed out on my bed.  I was working on a fiction-y blog post in my head.  I was exchanging pro-Canadian emails with a Canadian blog friend, and I was, of course, watching the Olympics.

You won’t find a bigger sports junkie than me.  You just won’t.  While waiting for Vancouver to wake up yesterday morning, I watched Brazilian soccer to fill the sports void.  I’m addicted.

But my favourite thing about the Olympics isn’t the sports.  It’s the little stories.  I love hearing about all the amazing things the athletes do when not competing.  I love knowing about all the things they’ve had to overcome to follow their dreams.

So last night, I was answering an e-mail with my TV on one of the million Canadian channels covering the games.  The host dude said, “And now the story of two brothers on very different life paths, but bound together…” (or something like that.)

I looked up from my laptop.

When the host mentioned the athlete’s older brother having CP, I pushed my laptop aside.  What played out on my TV screen for the next 3 or 4 minutes was one of the most touching stories I had ever seen.

If you know me, or have been reading here a while, you’ll know why this story knocked me on my ass.

They showed a guy who was a promising young hockey player quit the sport to take up skiing, because it would be easier for his older brother to watch and be part of it.

They showed a young man who wasn’t expected to be able to walk past the age of ten, walking arm and arm with his younger brother.

They showed an older brother who, at the Turin games, consoled his brother after “only” winning a silver.  An older brother who told his younger, world-class athlete, sibling how proud he was of him.

When the piece ended, I just stared at the TV.  I tried to organize my thoughts.  All I came up with was…

“He has to win gold in the moguls.”

Hours later, I was flipping through channels and ended up on pairs figure skating.  Between the time difference and my attention span, I kind of lost track of time.

I went to the kitchen for a drink.  When I got back to my room, they had cut to the men’s moguls.

The announcer said, “You know the set-up…  No Canadian athlete has ever won gold on Canadian soil…”

Those words alone gave me goosebumps.

They said, “Alexandre Bilodeau…” and I stopped blinking.

I watched his run.

Then they announced what I already knew…

“Gold medal for Canada.”

As eloquent as ever, I mumbled, “Holy fuck…”

Then they showed his brother celebrating.

The announcer said, “His brother stood the entire time…”

It made me need to sit down.

It didn’t take me long to realize that this was, easily, my favourite Olympic moment ever.

I didn’t need to see all the interviews I’ve watched since, with Alexandre Bilodeau and his remarkable family.

I didn’t need to see sports commentators completely moved.

I didn’t need to see Canadians celebrating in the streets.

I just knew.

If this was any other Canadian athlete, it would still be a huge victory.

An amazing performance.

A vanquished villain who was expected to win.  (Born and raised in Canada.  Turned his back on it at 15 and doesn’t hide his anti-Canadian feelings.)

But this story isn’t about any such negativity.

This is the story of a 22 year old who knows he didn’t make it to the podium on his own.

He cried talking about how much of an inspiration his brother has been.

He thanked every committee involved with putting the Olympics on, and in funding Canadian athletes.

As my friend pointed out, he thanked the volunteers.

He thanked his amazingly strong family.

He talked about how much his victory would mean to the other Canadian athletes still to compete.

It takes a lot to make me even prouder to be Canadian.

There are two faces I want to remember.

I want this post to remind me of Alexandre Bilodeau’s smile just before he started the race of his life.  There was no smugness to it.  He was enjoying the moment.  He was keenly aware that he had the opportunity to compete.  He was proud.  He was honoured.

I want to remember that look.

But the giant smile on his proud older brother’s face when Alexandre Bilodeau won…

I’ll never, ever forget that.

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12 Responses

  1. AJ says:

    Your post made me all teary-eyed again! I watched the replay of Bilodeau’s gold medal run and how they spotlighted his brother cheering him on the entire time! Makes me proud to be Canadian!

  2. Lexa says:

    I loved the moment as well. He seemed so humble and his brother, so proud. Perfect.

  3. Sybil Law says:

    Are you trying to make me cry today, Peter?!
    :)

  4. Carmen says:

    Thank-you for putting all of that into words. I cried last night numerous times – but no more when Alexandre hugged his brother.

    He has gold in so many things – now he has one to wear around his neck.

  5. heather says:

    I love that Alexandre and his story will live on in the history books. He made our first gold on home soil even better than I could have possibly imagined.

  6. Amanda says:

    This is now one of my favorite posts by you. Open, emotional, with a life-affirming topic. Love it.

  7. Felisa says:

    I’ve read your posts about your niece and I really love those because I have a cousin who was born the exact same day (same day, same year) that I was born who has CP too. I don’t see him as much as I’d like so he’s not someone I talk about a lot and his condition isn’t something I usually discuss with people so it’s great to read about ACN and her wonderful adventures with you.

    I haven’t been watching the Olympics but (thanks to being Valentine-less) I actually watched last night and had goosebumps all over my body when he won. I thought of my cousin and I actually thought of your ACN :) I know that it was a victory for Canada, for Bilodeau’s family, for lots of other people but what I loved about it is that Bilodeau dedicated it to his brother and couldn’t stop talking about him when he was interviewed afterwards. I can’t even find the words to describe how much that warmed my heart.

    I swear every single time I comment here I just sound like a total creeper. Maybe I should just comment more often rather than commenting once in a blue moon and leaving stuff like this.

  8. amy says:

    I’m a sports junkie too and on complete overload right now because of the Olympics coinciding with the schedule of the NBA AND college basketball, BUT I actually got to see that moment as well. I didn’t know the whole story behind it but I’ll have to spend some time finding it on The Google. Pretty amazing.

  9. Ashalah says:

    OK so I haven’t had a TV and haven’t been able to watch the olympics at all but this post just made me all teary and happy. I love those stories too and what a great one.

  10. I loved hearing about that too. When I saw him winning and they said the first Canadian to win a gold on home soil, I smiled and was happy for the Canadian bloggers I read .;-)
    But it really is such a great story about him and his brother, that really made the win even more special I think.

  11. i followed this athlete’s story too – very moving!

    i’m such a sucker for feel good sports stories AND family!

  12. remarkable! those brothers are the definition of amazing grace.

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