We pass each other and then I look again. I know this man. It's Coach Mark, from the boys' high school football years. Immediately, I am taken back about ten years.
Summer 2008. Son #1 is just starting high school. Football workouts start in June. Zay doesn't drive yet, and we live about 15 miles from the high school, so I spend many hours sitting in the car, or in the grassy area outside the football field. Today, I am sitting in the car reading. I hear a tap on the window and look up. It is Coach Mark.
By this point in my motherhood career, many coaches have approached me. It's usually about one of two things:
- They need someone to ______________(wash uniforms, head up the fundraiser, organize a team meal).- My son has committed some infraction.I wonder which it will be, but Coach Mark does not want either of those things. He wants to know if he can take my son to lunch.
"To lunch?" I say, "Is everything ok?"
Coach assures me that it is. He just wants to get to know my son. I offer to pay for the lunch, and he tells me that isn't necessary. I think I shove a $20 into his hand anyway.
Over the next four years, Mark is Zay's coach, but he is far more than that. He is a math teacher by trade, and spends many hours tutoring my math-challenged son. He handpicks teachers to fit Zay's needs as a learner. He checks on his grades every week, and makes sure he is caught up and eligible. When Zay has trouble- with a teacher, or with a girlfriend, or with another student, he heads for Mark's office.
Tonight, Mark and I chat for ten or fifteen minutes. We talk about the boys and about Mark's current job, then we go our separate ways. And I am so thankful, once again, for the angels that have been placed in my boys' lives, exactly when they needed them.