We waited 9 years to jump in the family game. All the while questions of when are you guys going to start a family had escalated and then ceased. I’m sure because our respective families had just given up. Being a coach’s wife there was never the right time, moving was always looming in the back of our heads. We wanted stability- something we both had. Don grew up an the idyllic town of Indian Hill, Ohio and I in Columbus Ohio. Neither of our parents had ever moved at this point- yes we were firmly planted midwesterners. So when we learned in July that we would be expecting our first born in early March. We were all delighted. The timing was perfect. College football coaches really only get two times a year of “down time”. One is in the first half of July, just after spring ball and high school camps and the second in late February early March concluding a grueling season and recruiting. So, I was looking forward to the fact that Don would be available and present.
The doctors visit that the second most common question asked during pregnancy came to light. Are you finding out the sex? Don and I approached this quiet differently. Of course I wanted to know. Plan, analyze and dwell on are things I’m quiet good at. Don who is actually the real strategic thinker of the family decided no … he would rather be surprised. So, as I sit in Dr. Morrais office watching the ultra sound screen for a clue … she asked….. Do you want to know? YES! Are you sure? Without Don? Answer again… Yes. Then the Catholic guilt started to set in and she said “I will write this down, seal it and when you get home you can open together if thats what you decide”. With anxious excitement Don walked in after a long day of two a days – he was in the middle of camp. “I said in this envelope the sex of our child is written down. Do you want to open it?” It was like having Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. “No, Maura I want to be surprised BUT you can… just keep it to yourself.” It laid there on our kitchen counter all night- sealed. The next morning he assured me that he would be ok if I knew but we would still plan name wise .. and room wise… for either sex and I wasn’t to tell anyone- family, friends, etc. Deal! He left. I opened it and it said GIRL. We really have been ok at accepting each others boundaries without resentment and he knew that a long football season with out him around to share in our new excitement would be hard enough. I’m sure he thought if I needed this bone… it was mine for the taking.
So after the morning sickness subsided it was time for the name game. We both knew we wanted a strong name, regardless of the sex. We both agreed that we would never name the child “TD” (touchdown) Horton and have to grow up in his fathers shadow and try to fill the name he was given. We wanted strong but not harsh. Smart but not a know it all. Memorable but not brazen. At the same time JK Rowling was making her impact and I loved the fact that in the beginning she succeeded with a name that was considered to be male. We decide we wanted a name that would go either way- for a boy or a girl. This was a harder challenge than one might think. I come from a family of 11 (yes, Irish Catholic) siblings. They had all started having their families and names were starting to run short in supply.
When I wasn’t even pondering the name of our child, I looked down at our coffee table and saw on top of the stack of books was one written by John Lombardo. The title… A Fire To Win. The Life And Times Of Woody Hayes
I am a Buckeye by birth and married to someone who not only did his graduate work at The Ohio State University but also coached under Earl Bruce. It gave me pause…… Hayes Horton….. Hayes Horton…….I think I love it! Woody Hayes possessed a quick wit, a sense of humor, and a broad grin that could win over any crowd. Well respected, a little crazy and tough. Known for not being afraid of a fight but smart enough to know he had to plan for it. All good things in my book! Sounds like the qualities I hope for in a child. …..Next the Don test. Will Don really consider or will it be back to the drawing board? Not sure if it was from pure exhaustion from being in the middle of a season but ran it passed him without any objections…….Next the Horton family book… did the name exist? Was there once a Hayes Horton. We consulted the powers to be and yes, some time ago there was a Hayes Horton. Its official no mater what sex we have name! A name with great character.
Three and a half years later we were introduced to a new person with the name Hayes. Michael Hayes. Actually, Dr. Michael Hayes- Neurologist at St. Elizabeth Hospital – the same place my Hayes Elizabeth was welcomed into this world.
It was this Dr. Hayes that broke the news to us that Don has Parkinson’s disease. It was this Dr Hayes that told us of all the disease you could have this was one of the best. He assured us that we would most likely see a cure in our lifetime. I guess he was kind of like Woody Hayes in the fact that that he could deliver bad news but also give you a silver lining of hope.
So our challenges with Parkinson’s will be most like the classic 10 year war… OSU vs Michigan. Always exciting, weathering ups and downs and hard hitting. A legendary Woody vs Bo battle. It will definitely be longer than their fight for us because WE WONT GIVE UP! All in the name of Hayes Horton.