I will hold the rope.

There are a handful of people in my life I would trust to hold my rope. If I were dangling from a cliff, and the only thing that would save me from my death was a rope and the people who were holding it….I would choose carefully.

We read this thought to our team before most of our games. We talked about how holding the rope is about doing your part, no matter how big or how small it is. It’s about allowing those around you to trust you enough to give you a spot on the rope. And that no matter what, you will not let go, gripping tightly, perhaps sometimes until your hands are raw. But at the end of the story, we all hold the rope for someone.

My team faired well this season, learning what it was like to step up and grab the rope at different times. It was a season of ups and downs with our bats, with our health and with our toughness. I was so proud of the way those girls battled, finishing third in the conference tournament.  They found at times, it was harder to hold on. Having a team always makes it easier. It’s not one person’s job to hold on…. it’s everyone’s. They did a nice job at that.

The night before we left for the Conference Championship, we had a pasta dinner at school. We sat in a circle and talked about all the things we did well as a team this season. Our focus was in the right place. Then I handed out 2 foot pieces of red rope. With it, everyone got a word. As they got up one by one when they felt it was right, they were to explain how their word fit with the team and the word previous to it, and they tied their piece of rope to the person who just went. At the end, we had a long rope, tied together, that we weaved into the fence in the dugout. At times, coaching third, I could look over and see various people in the dugout with their hands on the rope. Holding on. Being a team. It was a beautiful sight.

In my eighth grade gym class, we had tug o’ war contests quite regularly. I loved it. I knew I was a strong kid, usually one of the taller ones in my grade. I usually could knock off the girls pretty easily and then I would be paired up with the boys. Sometimes we did teams, but most often, it was a shootout. One on one…. til the last boy(or girl) was standing.
It became a big deal to me, I like to compete. I like to win. But most importantly, as a tall, strong sometimes awkward kid, it was something that boosted my sometimes very low confidence.

Growing up, my mom used to leave me notes on the kitchen table every morning before I left for school. Often they were reminders to take out the garbage or run the dishwasher, but they always ended with something like “I love you bunches” with a funny looking picture of flowers or a smile and signed “mom”… As if I wasn’t sure who wrote them. The writing remarkably resembled that of the tooth fairy I remember from a long time ago. Nevertheless, I would stuff the note in my pocket and make my way out the door for school. She was with me all day.

On the morning of the school Olympics, I was chosen as a member of the girls tug o’ war team for my grade.  Mom left a note about the weather, that I probably don’t want to wear my suede jacket in the rain and about not forgetting that it was trash day… But the ending of the note is something I remember: “Hold onto that rope and pull like hell.” I did. I also beat all of the boys in our single tug o’ war matches in gym class. I have never been afraid of calluses.
I look back now and see all the times that mom held the rope for me, for us, my family, her friends and community.
I kept those notes, stuffing them in my desk drawer when I came home every day. I am so glad something made me cherish that. I still have them, and could honestly say they are one of my most prized possessions. She taught me how to hold the rope. Strong, and with no fear. We hold the rope for her now.

Life sometimes gives us opportunities to hold the rope for someone who has held the rope for us our whole lives.

What a great honor.
I will hold the rope.

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