What do dreams look like to someone born blind, who lives all his days in the dark?
If my brother as a child ever dreamed of playing football, he never talked about it to me.
He talked about other things. Cars, mostly. And speed. He couldn’t wait to learn to drive.
“Sister,” he’d say, that skinny little boy with laughing blue eyes and legs badly bent from cerebral palsy, “when I get my license, I’ll fly so fast the angels will run and hide their wings!”
I didn’t tell him he would never get a license. Joe was smart. He’d figure it out soon enough. Until then, why not let him dream?
By the time he was a teenager, he didn’t mention driving any more. That’s when he fell in love with radio. He listened to it day and night, any chance he got _ WAGY from Forest City, N.C.
“Sister,” he’d say, that pimply faced boy sporting a blond crew cut and swinging a shiny white cane, “when I’m old enough to get a job, I’m going to be a disc jockey on the radio!”
I didn’t tell him it would never happen. Like most things, he figured it out on his own. In the meantime, he got to dream.
Then somehow _ while I was off in California raising a family and working for newspaper _ Joe fell in love with football.
Actually, he fell in love with a woman, Tommie Jean, who was also blind, and a big Clemson fan. When they got married, he promised to love, honor, cherish and always pull for the Tigers.
They were married 10 years before he lost her to cancer. Now he pulls for the Tigers twice as hard in her behalf.
He never misses a game, thanks to his hero, Pete Yanity, the play-by-play voice on WSPA, Spartanburg, S.C.
“You love Pete Yanity more than you love me,” I say. Joe doesn’t answer, just grins.
Three years ago, after I spoke in Anderson, S.C. (where my column has long appeared in the Independent Mail, and people know about my brother and most other personal details of my life) my husband and I were invited to take Joe to his first Clemson game as guests of the president and his wife (Jim and Marcia Barker, not as Joe first thought, George and Laura Bush.) And Pete Yanity, bless him, invited us to stop by the broadcast booth to say hello.
Talk about a dream come true. Joe had so much fun I thought he’d start nagging me to take him again. But he didn’t. Maybe, with all he’s “seen” in life, he’s learned to take it as it comes.
I wish you could’ve seen him when I told him I was speaking in Anderson again (last week, at a fundraiser for AnMed Health Center) and we’d been invited to the Independent Mail’s box to see Clemson play Georgia Tech.
We picked him up at noon (he was ready at 5 a.m.) and he was wearing his Clemson shirt.
“Why are you wearing a Gamecocks shirt?” I said.
He grinned as he does when I tease him, but he touched the emblem on his shirt to be sure.
Before to the game, we were hurrying to the broadcast booth to say hello to Pete Yanity when we passed the “good luck” tradition that Clemson’s players always touch as they run down the hill into the stadium.
“Joe,” said my husband, “there’s Howard’s Rock.”
Joe reached out and sat for a moment _ a middle-aged man in a wheelchair, his face lit up like Christmas, ever so gently rubbing his hand over a rock.
Later, on the ride home, I would tell him he had played a part in Clemson’s 27-13 victory.
“I did?” he said.
“You brought them luck.”
He threw his head back to laugh and it sounded like angels running to hide their wings.
“Well,” he said, “glad to help.”

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