FROM AUGUST 30, 2010
Saturday’s game will be special. In many ways. I will be with my cousin and her friend, both lunatic North Carolina fans. My cousin’s dad, Uncle Gene was always the first to join in on Carolina away games. My dad was often very quick to join him.
Well, this coming weekend is kind of a second-generation tradition thing. Add into the mix, a third generation – my son.
But the whole trip sort of originated with that third generation – my son, Matt. He and I have been to many games. So have he and his mom. So has just he. But this game is special for him. For me, too. And I hope it is for Bret as well.
Bret was a young man my son met while spending a year at the “other Carolina” – the University of South Carolina – a few years ago. Matt and Bret became good friends. And Bret’s mom lived just a few miles from me in Hillsborough, North Carolina.
After spending a year in Columbia, Matt moved to Charlotte. Bret moved home with his mom. That’s when I met the young man. He would come spend time at my house when Matt was home for a visit. They mostly argued – about sports’ statistics and gambling techniques. But they cared for one another. That was clear.
Bret was a die-hard LSU fan. Matt is a die-hard Tar Heel. The both of them had talked about attending together a Carolina-LSU game some day. That never happened.
Bret had some health issues. None of the issues should have caused such a sudden and tragic end to that young guy’s life. But some health problem did. I’m not really sure what it was, or why he had to die so soon. But he did.
Matt and I have pulled very hard for LSU since Matt’s friend died. And we have toasted young Bret those times LSU won big games. And we promised each other that if we ever had the chance, we would attend a Carolina-LSU game and toast that young guy’s life. That game is Saturday. We have dubbed the affair, “The Bret Bowl.”
I hope Bret hears our toasts to him this weekend. And I hope he knows that the memory of his life brought my son and my cousin and another die-hard Tar Heel family member and me together – one more time.
Cheers young man. Cheers Bret.
September 11, 2014: Your team won the game, Bret. But the four of us Carolina guys did, too.