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and they drive three hours east(2)

Time:2017-10-12 23:23Shoes websites Click:

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Anyone familiar with Tittle's football career knows that it wasn't supposed to be this way. His body was supposed to crumble, not his mind. He was famous during his 17-year career -- as a backup with the Colts, as a star with the 49ers and as a legend with the Giants -- for not only playing through pain but for retaining a wit in the face of crushing losses. But Dianne has watched her dad regress in inches, too small to notice during daily visits from her nearby house but devastating when considered in their totality. "I haven't lost him," she says. "But I'm losing him."

Still, she believes -- hopes -- that the dad she's known all her life resides somewhere inside, bound up and waiting to be freed. That person arrives in flashes, mostly when he talks about a party that he has hosted for 27 years in a row at his house on the shores of Caddo Lake, 20 minutes northeast of Marshall. What began as a way to give Tittle's former teammates a taste of East Texas evolved into an annual event, a rite of spring, with friends from every stage of his life sitting on the porch as the sun set, drinking beers and eating barbecue, strumming guitars and howling country songs, listening to the host's yarns grow more elaborate as the cooler emptied and night descended into morning. His golden rule of storytelling: "Lie to tell a truth." When folks would mercifully stumble to bed, Y.A. would issue an order: Be at the dock to go fishing at 7 a.m. They would always be there, black coffee in hand. Y.A. would usually oversleep.

That party is never far from his mind, even now. In December, as if on cue, the anticipation of hosting for a 28th year creeps into Y.A.'s consciousness. "We have to do it," he says to Dianne.

She is wary. Most of his teammates are dead. The prospect of a few widows surrounding her confused and crestfallen dad seems terrifying. But in California, he spends his days in the TV room of an oversized house as his memory evaporates. Maybe, she wonders, his memory can briefly be restored in Marshall. Maybe geography can somehow transcend disease.

"We're going," Dianne says.

DIANNE HOPES SHE can give her dad the kind of miracle he once gave her. On Dec. 17, 1949, in Houston, Y.A. was playing in a charity football game when suddenly an eerie feeling told him to go home. He hitchhiked four hours to his house in Marshall, and early the next morning, Minnette, pregnant with their first child, awoke covered in blood. She had suffered a placental abruption and was hemorrhaging. Minnette was rushed to the hospital. Men weren't allowed in the delivery rooms back then, so Y.A. pounded on the door, desperate for any update. Minnette survived. Their child, a little girl, had gone so long with so little oxygen that doctors pronounced her dead on her birth certificate. But the doctors were wrong. Dianne was alive -- 4 trembling pounds, cradled in her dad's hands.

So it's fitting and somewhat ironic that of all the Tittle kids, Dianne is the one whom Y.A. now calls "my quarterback. I do what she says." In a family of athletes, she suffered from exercise-induced anaphylaxis -- potentially fatal allergic reactions brought on by physical activity. Still, she grew up trying hopelessly to connect with her dad. She watched all of his games, studying them for clues into what football revealed about him. Fans saw him as a star, larger than life. She saw him as human -- a target on a field, a limping hero at home. Y.A. tried to bond with his daughter by ironing her clothes, but at heart he was the type of father who had no sympathy for splinters or stubbed toes and who wouldn't talk football without one of his sons present.

It was not easy for a country boy from Texas to raise a beautiful teenage daughter in the 1960s. He initially disapproved of her marrying her hippie boyfriend, Steve de Laet, whom she met at the University of Colorado. And he initially disapproved of her decision to become a poet and harpist too. "The only Sappho I ever knew played for the Green Bay Packers," he liked to say.

In 1981, Dianne ran a marathon, and when her allergy began to fight her from the inside, hardening her mouth and swelling her skin, she thought about how her dad always played through pain -- through blood, even -- and she finished. At a family gathering a year later, Dianne said: "Dad, sit down. I'm going to do something for you on the harp."

She recited one of her original poems, and afterward Y.A. said, "What Greek was that?"

"Dad, it's called 'The Hero.' It's about you."

Dianne has tentatively planned the annual party for March, but Y.A.'s health might prevent him from flying. In January, Y.A.'s breathing was so bad he thought he was dying. "This is it," he told Dianne. He was placed on oxygen. But over months of daily conversations with his "little bitty brother" Don -- he's 84 -- Y.A. asks hundreds of times when they're going to Caddo Lake. Finally, Dianne books the party for the last Friday in April, but days before they are due to leave, Y.A. comes down with bronchitis. They board the plane to Dallas anyway. On the flight, he collapses from lack of oxygen; passengers have to help him off the floor. The entire trip seems like a bad idea. But then Don picks up Dianne, Y.A. and Anna at the airport, and they drive three hours east, off I-20 and to the end of a long country road, where a white house emerges from the blooming dogwoods. A sign reads: TITTLE'S BAYOU COUNTRY EST.

"It's magical," Y.A. says.

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