Andrew Geracoulis will be 10 years old in October but probably remembers his day with Tedy Bruschi three years ago as if it were yesterday.
One wonders how the former recipient of the Make-a-Wish Foundation feels today, the day Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi announces his retirement. Back in 2006, Andrew, then six years old, spent a day with Bruschi, and was the subject of ESPNís ďMy WishĒ series that summer. Less than a week old in 1999, Andrew had surgery for a congenital heart defect, one that had his parents actually planning his funeral, just days after his birth.
Itís no wonder that Bruschi, the player who recovered from a stroke and returned to the football field in the same calendar year, was his favorite player.
Hereís what Andrewís mother, Cynthia, wrote about the experience:
Sharing Andrew's excitement was something that seven years ago I never dared dream. You see, "heart parents" don't have the innocent luxury of dreaming that far ahead in their child's future. Instead, we spend many hours praying just to see their first feeding without a tube, their first "good" echocardiogram after surgery, and their first birthday. So the weeks and days leading up to the trip to Boston to meet Bruschi made me feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. For the first time my happiness for Andrew felt pure. I was watching Andrew experience something truly phenomenal, without worrying about anything that could possibly go wrong.
There are countless images that define Bruschi's Patriots career. The fumble recovery in the snow and holding up three fingers after the Super Bowl win over the Eagles come immediately to mind. But for many of us, the most enduring is the one of him playing with his kids on the field prior to the Super Bowl win over the Eagles. Itís just an image of pure joy in the face of preparing for one of the most important moments of his career.
Likewise, there are plenty of on-field highlights to fill the Bruschi video reel. But what does it say about the man when two of the most lasting memories we will have of him have nothing to do with making the tackle? And how many other area athletes can we say that about upon retirement?
Thatís what makes Bruschi special in New England. He was one hell of a player here. But his days as an icon arenít about to go away any time soon.