Jock Talk with Joel Charron: Where it all started.

Very few conversations have rocked me like the one I had with my sister Micah on Saturday afternoon.

I remember it clearly; Bree and I were driving back from go-karting in Leamington that day. The day was warm, the air was heavy and clouds started to roll in from the south. We were just coming up to the Sears building, discussing what we should have for dinner when my phone began to vibrate.

I looked at the screen to see my sister’s name splashed across the phone in big white, bold letters.

I thought it was a little strange that my sister was calling; maybe she was planning something for the kids or maybe just wanted to say “hi” I thought.

I turned on the phone and held it to my face.

Me: Hey Micah.

Micah: Joel, something has happened.

Me: Ok, what happened?

Micah: Ummm, dad had a heart attack.

Me: WHAT?!?!

Micah: They rushed him to Henry Ford in the states. I don’t know how bad it is or how he is doing. Just stay by your phone and I will let you know something when I do.

Me: Ok.

Although I didn’t know anything about the events surrounding what caused the heart attack, I knew it had to be pretty bad in order for them to ship him to Henry Ford. I also knew if they brought him there he would get the best treatment that money can buy, however that was a very tiny consolation prize during a very worrisome time.

The news made me numb, it felt like I was walking through Jell-O. The sound around me faded and   I lost focus of what Bree and I were talking about.

A lot of thoughts raced through my head.  I would be lying if I didn’t think that I may never see my dad again, but I quickly changed my thoughts to something a little more positive.

That’s when it hit me.

It was my dad who started it all for me. It was because of him that I have such a strong passion for sports.

My father was a talented athlete growing up.

He played football for Lowe (which is non-existent now.) He played middle-linebacker. He was intense, strong, fearless and ferocious. He was everything a coach wanted a middle linebacker to be. He was feared and respected on the field and earned his way onto two all-city teams.

He was set to attend the University of Wisconsin on a football scholarship before a drunk driver ended his chance before he took one step onto the field.

While I was in Grade 10 and a member of the House of Shalom, we had a guest speaker one meeting. After this meeting the speaker walked up to me and asked my name.

Speaker: Excuse me son, you look like someone I once knew. What’s your name and who is your father?

Me: My name is Joel Charron….my father is Jim Charron.

Speaker: Jim Charron….the same Jim Charron who played middle linebacker for Lowe back in the day.

Me: (I laughed) Yes sir, that would be him.

Speaker: Kid, let me tell you; your old man was one hell of a football player. I remember he came out of nowhere and hit me so hard, my ribs hurt for weeks after.

My dad is also a Minnesota Vikings fan, something that I picked up from him. My dad told me stories of the Vikings defensive line “The Purple People Eaters” of the late 1960’s to the late 1970’s.

He told me he used to have a giant poster of Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and Cary Larsen down on the line, covered in mud, their breath coming out of their helmets, ready to attack.

He told me my grandmother never used to go into his room after he put that poster up because it frightened her.

Although, he would never admit it, when my brother and I first told him that we were going to play high school football, a little piece inside of him looked like it was woken up again. Although, he couldn’t play football anymore he could pass his knowledge on to his two sons, something I think he always wanted to do.

Now I didn’t play middle linebacker and neither did my brother, but that didn’t stop him from giving us tips and telling us what to do in certain situations.

I played defensive end on the Junior Amherst team. My dad taught me how to “pop and swim.” A technique that was used to “pop” the offensive lineman in the inside shoulder then swim threw him with my outside arm.

When I learned how to master that technique and used it in a game to get past the lineman and punish the quarterback for a sack, he was so excited that you swear it was him who made the hit.

My dad is also a Montreal Canadiens fan, something that I don’t share with him. When I was a teenager I was also a huge basketball fan and had a man-crush on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Every spring when playoffs came around he would let me watch basketball instead of hockey (I wasn’t a big hockey fan until I got into my 20’s.) He wouldn’t complain he would just enjoy the games with me.

It wasn’t until years later that I found out that my father only watched basketball for me, and once I moved out and started my own life my father never watched another NBA game again.

My father once told me he used to love to watch me on the basketball court. He said I was smart; always thinking two plays ahead and always battling.

While I was in Grade 8 at Malden, we had just beaten a talented Anderdon Public School team led by Brian Bondy by one point in the Amherst Black and Gold Tournament to win the championship, in which I had a particularly good game.

After the game my dad and I went to Tim Hortons to talk about the game. He starred across the table with a huge smile and told me he’d never seen me play like that, it was as if I was possessed by the basketball gods.

“I bet Michael Jordan would have been impressed,” he said.

But at the time, I didn’t care about Michael Jordan, my dad was impressed and that was more than good enough for me.

My father brought me to my first two professional games. I was in Grade 6 and we went to Tiger Stadium for a game against the Kansas City Royals on a crisp September night. Years later my father once again surprised me with suite tickets to a Detroit Pistons/Toronto Raptors game, he didn’t plan it but the game was also when they retired Isiah Thomas’ jersey.

My dad and I have had some great times over the years, a lot of memories. Without really knowing it, my father helped shape me into the crazed sports fan that I am today.

It’s been far too long since I had a meaningful conversation with the man I once called my hero. It’s been years since we’ve been able to sit down and watch a Vikings game together. It’s been far too long since we’ve been able to be father and son.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen my father and since his heart attack I still haven’t been able to see him (doctors orders…not mine.) However, on Monday morning when I called Henry Ford for information on his condition I was able to speak to him.

It was the most that I’ve said to him in some time. I didn’t have a lot of time to say much but I told him the three most important words I needed to say “I love you.” When I hung up the phone I wept into my hands.

As tragic as this event has been, maybe it was a blessing in disguise.

I miss my sports buddy. I miss the times we used to have. I miss the friendly banter, but most of all I miss my dad.

One response to “Jock Talk with Joel Charron: Where it all started.”

  1. BT says:

    WOW, very moving story…i’m left with goosebumps and a lump in throat. Joel, this peice was a great tribute to the relationship between a father and son and what we take from every expierence in the moments we hope to never find ourselves…the end receiveing end of a bad phone call…thank you for sharing this man.