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Sports Stories: Roy B. Clogston (1905-1995)

Synopsis - War of the Game

In his prime, Roy Bennet Clogston (Grandpa Roy) was a world-class athlete who seemed to appear, Forrest Gump-like at every high point of amateur athletics. But as this 106-year-old man lay dying from natural causes just as the the pandemic shut down most of the world, his writer granddaughter pays him a visit over concerns for his health.

From March 20, 2020 until his funeral on April 5, 2020, his granddaughter had the privilege of being his companion on this journey. During this last week together, she tries to connect with the man behind his sports stories. His recollections featured such luminaries such as Jack Dempsey, Kirk Douglas, Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, Gene Tunney, and Joe DiMaggo with a particular focus on his escapades coaching football in the Pacific during World War II. She weaves these stories into her own understanding of her troubled alcoholic family tree and her own challenging life which has been upended as a direct result of this ongoing global pandemic.

Facing loss of employment, ghosting by her siblings and soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, and lost rental income due to an errant AirBnb guest, she decides to keep her sanity by focusing on her new role as her grandpa’s self-appointed storyteller. This reframing helps keep her grounded as she continues to try to connect while her grandom chatters away.

This story takes a deadly turn on March 30, 2020 when her grandpa's health worsens and and he is placed on a respirator with his voice now silenced. After he dies the next day due to complications from Covid, his granddaughter continues in her role as his scribe. As she preps for his funeral, she recounts the climax to his World War II stories - that day in November 10. 1943 when he led the Navy Ford Islanders football team to win the football championship in the Pacific.

As the book closes, as the granddaughter looks back over her last story-time together, she realized that whole she didn’t get the closure she desired or a genuine relationships with her extended family and especially her siblings. But through Grandpa's stories, she got to connect to his core values.