Slice of life stories on family, sports, losing, and life
39 years ago Phil Collins’ people were on the rotary phone with of all people my dad to help the Genesis pop legend tape the ankle he rolled in time for his show one cold October night at the Hartford Civic Center Mall. Dad, who was athletic trainer and tennis coach at the University of Hartford for nearly four decades, treated Phil like any student-athlete. My sister came along for backstage ankle taping – Collins offering dad a pair of front row seats to hear him belt out his “Can you feel it in the air tonight” number, his #1 hit back in 1981. I wanted to go desperately, but Dad picked my sister and, while I was bummed at the time (okay, I was mad), I get it now. Flash forward to one year ago this month at Madison Square Garden in New York – Collins, now in his 70s, hobbled on stage with a wobbly cane and a broken foot and admitted to the sold out crowd he probably wasn’t going to be skipping around stage or beating those drums, that his ‘messed up’ foot, bad back and a number of other health issues would keep him stationary, but, against all odds, he was going to sing a few songs…His teenage son played drums and my bride and I, neither having ever seen Phil in concert, sang “Follow You Follow Me” like we were still 10 years old next to the scratchy record player in our parents’ living rooms. It is remarkable how pain, injury and surgery don’t have to mean you stop. You just have to adjust. I think back to that night when the phone rang and how my mom dropped the receiver on dad’s foot and nearly choked my sister with the phone coil as she frantically stretched the phone over to dad’s ear…. I think back to how dad showed me the next morning how he taped Phil’s ankle like an artist in his own right, and I wonder if the pop star would remember that moment. If he’d remember dad. The athletic trainer.