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Oil, water and proud parent moments

by Tom Coombe

Echo editor

“NO! I’m water!”

Macy’s exclamation at her much older and much bigger brother rang through our house yet again one recent afternoon.

While not ear-piercing, it packed a few decibels and might have been disturbing if it were not so common.

The two siblings, one a mercurial, well-read, emotional fourth-grader and the other a button-pushing, wisecracking senior, are known to be argumentative - at least with each other - inside our White Street home.

We’ve often said that when they’re at odds, the two are like oil and water.

But even that creates an argument as the two then argue about... yep, that’s right.... who is oil and who is water.

When they’re disagreeable, they’ll disagree on anything and everything.

Siblings fight. Siblings argue. That’s not unique to any family with teens and pre-teens.

When they fight, thoughts often turn to the future. Will they get along as adults? Are they headed on divergent pathways? Will Hollee and I have to make arrangements to visit those two, and our current Army-enlisted son Jacob, separately?

And then, just as worries begin to set in, this occurs:

Basketball season is in full swing in our house, with Macy taking part in elementary basketball on Saturdays and the halftime scrimmages at girls varsity games, while Robert is the lone senior on the Timberwolves’ boys team.

I spend night upon night in gymnasiums every year, but this year more than ever it’s a family affair.

Macy has taken to basketball and even got and received her own ball for Christmas and an outdoor hoop she’s sharing with her older brother.

The weather hasn’t allowed the hoop to go up and Macy was practicing her dribbling and drills in the kitchen this week.

Sitting at the office, soon I got word that Robert was in the kitchen with his little sister, offering pointers and tips and showing off some of the ball handling drills the varsity boys do. Even our refrigerator was used to help set screens.

Fast forward to Monday night. Robert was done with practice but he came back to the gym for the girls game - not just to watch his counterparts on the Timberwolves but to see Macy race up and down the court for six or seven minutes at the half.

Macy’s one shot just rimmed out, and there was just one basket made in the mini-game as future Timberwolves took to the court before an appreciative audience.

When it was over Macy was, to no surprise, emotional.

It was her 6-3, 200 pound-plus brother, however, who helped soothe those emotions with a giant bear hug and words of congratulations, advice and support.

Some 24 hours later, Macy was back in the gym. “Dad, I go to a lot of games,” she told me and I agreed.

Baseball in the spring and summer, football and volleyball in the fall and a ton of basketball every winter. We’ve joked she has been to more towns and more athletic facilities than any fourth grader on the Range - but it may be no joke. She probably could write her own column rating the hot dogs, nachos and pretzels at various gyms and fields across the state.

On this Tuesday night she was in the Memorial Gymnasium to watch her big brother.

Robert doesn’t play much for the Wolves. After all, he took eight years off of basketball from elementary school until his junior year, when he opted to once again lace up the sneakers and join Tom McDonald’s program.

His playing time is understandably rare, but Robert works hard in practice and is making the most of his experience. Sure there’s some bias here but having coached for better than three decades, Robert is the kind of kid you want on your team.

Tuesday’s game wound down and the Wolves struggled against a taller, more potent Greenway team.  Their 6-6 center, Stephan McGee V, offered some highlights including three first-half dunks.  I don’t know if there have been three dunks in our gym in the last three years before Tuesday.

But our family’s highlight came at the end of the game. That’s when Robert discarded his warmup shirt and got into the game for the closing minutes.

He grabbed a defensive rebound and a few moments later got fouled while putting up a shot underneath.

After rimming the first free throw, the second one was nothing but net and Robert got into the scoring column for the second time in as many games he played.

Turning to my right, I found the happiest fan in the gymnasium as that free throw went in.  There was Macy, jumping up and down with her hands in the air, celebrating as if her brother had just won the NBA title or made a free throw that sent the Wolves to state.

To say it was the best moment of my day would be an understatement.

Oil and water do mix, after all.


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