Tuesday, February 17, 1998
Mother's courage inspires Bean
"That was for his mother, for sure."
He drew a deep breath and closed his eyes.
"She was an incredible woman."
Nancy Bean died of breast cancer in August and so, Peter Bean stands here at the bottom of a mountain in Japan and watches his son, Jeff, fly off the mountain, wishing Nancy could be here, too.
He wishes she could be here to wrap herself in the glorious feeling a parent feels when they see their son or daughter doing what they love and doing it as one of the best in the world.
But he knows and it helps a bit, that the spirit and courage she showed in her her three-year fight, particularly in the last month, is the single biggest reason Jeff is on his way to the aerials final tonight.
It is all so mixed up, so sad and happy at the same time, always moving, the joy and exhilaration of seeing Jeff qualify for the aerials final with two great jumps and always just underneath the bright sunlight and the magic and color of the Olympics on a mountain in Japan, is the gaping hole of a wife and mother who cannot be here.
It was never supposed to be this way.
The family had always pointed towards 2002 as the year and the Olympics Games in which Jeff would first compete.
"This was never in the plan a year ago," said Peter, corporate facilities manager at high-tech firm Cognos.
But things have not been normal in the Bean household.
Though he wasn't allowed to start doing triple flips until he was 18, here is Jeff in the Olympics after just having turned 21.
He's a kid a mom and dad can be proud of and at the bottom of the mountain, while Jeff accepts congratulations from his girlfriend, Lindsay Mullaly, and has his picture taken with Japanese fans and signs autographs, Peter is proud.
"The only autograph I've seen him sign before," he jokes, "was on my VISA card."
Moments earlier, he had spoken quietly and movingly of his life with Nancy, raising the two boys, Jeff and older brother David.
"She's fabulous," said Peter. "She kept Jeff in check, kept him out of the pool halls. We did it together. We're a very close family.
"It's too bad David can't be here, too."
He's a student at the University of Ottawa.
He felt missing time now might result in him hurting his grades and costing him a chance for a scholarship to graduate school.
Both boys are on their way to making their mark in the world and it is to cry that their mom, who was just 50, is not allowed to see the rich result of her love.
You can only hope she knows the huge role she played in her sons' lives as they unfold here in Japan and back in Ottawa.
As her health worsened last summer, Jeff decided to skip two World Cup competitions scheduled for August in Australia and David contemplated staying home from the Yukon, where he needed to go to complete work on his honors geography degree.
They wanted to be close at hand.
"She put up quite a fight and she made a comeback for a month," said Peter.
"She wasn't going to die. She wanted to see David graduate and Jeff go to the Olympics and when she died, she knew they were on their way. She got them on their way."
Jeff wound up recording a third-place finish in one of those two World Cups in Australia and it was a result that played a key role in him qualifying for these Games.
In the sunlight spilling over the edge of a mountain, he landed, for the first time in competition, his quadruple twisting, triple back somersault which helped him qualify seventh among the 12 competitors advancing to tonight's final.
He spotted his father a couple of barriers away in the finish area.
"Dad!" he cried out. "Dad!"
The security people wouldn't let Peter by.
Jeff vaulted a barrier, shouldered by the guards and pressed his face close to his father's.
You cannot know what passed between them in that moment, cannot understand unless you've been through what they've been through.
The memorable moments captured at the Olympic Games are often of tearful medal winners, of victory and defeat, all in bright spotlight.
That moment between a father and his son, illuminated by some feeble sunlight spilling over the edge of a mountain, was as touching as any of them.