My maternal grandmother always had candles burning in her house on behalf of anyone in the family needing a little extra help. Big exam, job interview or illness? We would call our Gram and ask her to light a candle for us. Most of the time she already had one lit because she kept up with all of the family news and she knew who needed a boost. It was always reassuring to see the candles burning away and working their magic on top of her dryer. (She kept them there so the small grandchildren couldn't reach them. Anyone over the age of five knew better than to touch her candles.)
I carry on my grandmother's tradition in my own way by lighting candles at different times. And I feel that burning candles now for the New Orleans Saints is a perfectly natural way to aid them during their big games. The candles are lit tonight next to the anti-hurricane shoebox altar with Saints talismans. Since last week, I've added my ticket, my pom-poms and the progam that was soaked in Dome foam from last Saturday's winning effort against the Eagles.
Another New Orleans family decided to work a little magic last week while at the Saints game. (The story below starts on page 3 of the link.)
Knock on Wood!
Wood Brown III was a lifelong Saints fan. The former president of the Louisiana Bar Association was the type of stubborn old codger who would stay in his seats, first at Tulane Stadium, then at the Dome, until the end of every game -- decades of crappy games -- despite the implorings from his two sons: "Please, Dad, can we leave now?"
"No," he would tell them. "Something might happen."
We all know a million guys like this. The determined, delusional and unbreakable backbone of this community. Guys who stay in their seats and continue to believe against all odds.
As you well know, that elusive "something" that Wood Brown III -- who lived up to his name with his lifelong penchant for saying "knock on wood!" while rapping his forehead -- waited for all his life never happened over all those years. And now something has finally happened -- something big -- but it's too late for Wood.
Robbed of the ability to attend games several years ago because of Parkinson's disease, he finally succumbed to it this past May.
His body was cremated and his family planned to bury his urn in a plot at St. Joseph's Abbey in Covington last Saturday, Jan. 13, on what would have been Wood's 71st birthday.
"My brother and I had tickets to the game against the Eagles that night," Wood's son, Chuck Brown, told me this week. "I said: Wait a minute! We can't put dad in the ground while the Saints are still alive. He would have loved this!"
Thus, over their mother's halfhearted objection, the family did indeed bury Wood in his urn last weekend, but not before his sons dipped an empty tin from his favorite cigar brand -- Romeo y Julieta -- and scooped up a tube full of their dad's ashes.
"Mom wasn't real happy about this, but she let it happen," Chuck said. "The old man would have absolutely loved what is happening with this team. He waited his whole life for this moment. You can't discount that."
And so Chuck and his brother Clay brought their dad to the game last Saturday night at the Superdome. Wood Brown III was securely tamped into a cigar tube in Chuck's shirt pocket and when times got tense during the game, he and his brother would look at each other and say: "Knock on Wood!"
And that's what they would do, patting Chuck's breast pocket for luck. Other fans seated around them picked up on what was happening and pretty soon an entire section of fans was knocking on Wood and it must have worked because look what happened.