Thursday night’s game provided the Toronto Argonauts an opportunity to host their version of the CFL Pink initiative. A portion of every ticket sale went to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation of Ontario. It truly was a classy show of support from a classy organization.
And then I ran into Argos’ Communications Intern, Aaron Rabinovits in the press box of Rogers Centre. Among his layout of statistics, press clippings, and keen observational voodoo recollections of games past, was his laptop – open to facebook. He somehow snared me into looking at a video of himself on his profile page. Aaron was shirtless.
I immediately set about purging the memory of that video from my mind. Tried to think of something more pleasant – like kittens being crushed under a Zamboni or something.
It didn’t work.
Once the game began, no amount of keen observational insights from mister Rabinovits was going to lull me into my happy place. I had a hard time concentrating. The memory of shirtless Aaron was trampling upon that place in my head where my sanity goes for a reprieve from the daily grind.
And then I began to notice all the pink throughout the stadium. There was a video playing of Argo running back Jeff Johnson, talking about his own close encounter with women’s cancers. There were two other videos on argonauts.ca featuring players talking about departed loved ones. I felt a lump in my throat.
My thoughts turned inwards.
The legend goes something like this… Auntie Ann and Auntie Mary were both sitting around the table with other family members for some occasion. As is typical for any function in my family, people started squabbling about something no one remembers. What people do recall however, is that Annie and Mary were on opposite sides of the argument.
At one point things got so heated that Annie reached into her bra, pulled out her fake boob, and threw it at Mary. The room went stunned silent. Like Mary, Annie was a survivor of breast cancer, hence the readily available ammunition. No one saw that fake boob coming, especially at the supper table. They just sat there staring at each other. Did that really just happen?
Annie was known for her crazy antics. She was always one of the biggest personalities in the room. So while no one expected her to actually fling a fake boob at Mary – at the supper table no less – it wasn’t something that was all that surprising either.
The two just sat there, staring at each other, with these kind of serious looks on their faces. No one at the table said a word. No one dared move – except for Mary – who reached into her own bra, pulled out her own fake boob, and threw it back at Annie.
The room erupted into laughter and a legend was born.
Four years ago, Annie left us. Mary had preceded her by a few months. Cancer.
Over 100 members of the Argos Cheerleaders Alumni, dating back over four decades, took the field at halftime to show their support for Pink. The ‘Ribbon of Strength’, comprised of names submitted by Argos fans, players and staff of those who have been affected by women’s cancers, appeared on the in-stadium video boards throughout the game.
Ricky Ray completed 21 straight passes to smash the club record, while passing for 505 yards on the night. The Argos put 36 points on the board, and guaranteed themselves a trip to the Eastern Final with the win. Impressive stuff, but somehow I couldn’t help but think that something even bigger was in the air.
I needed a photo to accompany this article and Aaron has always been my go-to man for these sorts of requests. When I saw what he sent me, I couldn’t believe my inbox. It was a picture of a name from the Ribbon of Strength on the video board, Sara Liberty-Rabinovits – his mother.
All those names, the ones on the video boards, and the ones we carry around inside us – they continue to move us. They come up in our thoughts, and they cause us to think of a future day, one when we will be talking about another kind of win – the sort that comes with a victory over women’s cancers.