Given the game last week, the long-standing rivalry in football between the Bears and the Packers has only become more intense. As the Bears growl and the Packers . . . well do whatever angry cheese does, there would seem little hope for a dénouement between the great powers. However, this weekend, hope emerged in the most unlikely of places. In Illinois, my niece, Jessica Turley, a die-hard Bears fan, and Matt Patterson, a die-hard Packers fan, got married. That’s right, before a large crowd divided 50-50 between Bears and Packers families, Jessica and Matt tied the knot in a beautiful wedding to the joy of both families. The whole Turley family from Virginia joined the rest of the Turley clan (despite having our flight cancelled the day before) for the event, which was a huge amount of fun in Oak Brook. Madie was the flower girl. Sure, there are some who do not believe that either family should “intermarry” but these two brought not just two teams but two families together. So Middle East negotiators, Russian-Ukraine diplomats, farmers and ranchers, Carnivores and Vegans, take note. Peace is possible.
It was a huge gamble. These two families are all-in, take-no-prisoners Bears and Packers families. The romance of these two therefore has not been equaled since Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montague first caught each other’s eye in Verona. Both families however resisted any formal counseling in the assumption that no such union could last, but love conquers all, even during a Packers streak against the Bears. Hurried efforts of conversion on both sides failed. Group interventions were pushed away. As Jessica and Matt moved between their two worlds, even on Sundays, it became clear that opposites could not only attract but prevail in an unbreakable bond.
The two families soon reconciled to the fact that the couple would defy every social and cultural norm separating Wisconsin from Illinois. Matt became an indispensable part of the Turley family — albeit something of a novelty for our family dinners as someone who actually thinks before he speaks and then actually listens to the response. Where Jessica is a whirling dervish, Matt tends to be a rock of stability. Where Jessica is the comedian, Matt is the straight man. To put it simply, the Turleys adore Matt, who has a quiet wit and humor that is magnetic.
The wedding, as you might expect, had its football references. Jessica defuses the team tension by making the ultimate expression of love in her vows by saying how much she loved Matt in three little words: “Go Pack Go.” The Turleys recoiled, of course. but then applauded wildly. It was a matrimonial version of a captive walking across Checkpoint Charlie to end the cold war. (Of course, we were even more delighted when Jessica entered the reception as the new Mrs. Patterson wearing a Bears hat).
I could not be prouder of them both and we all could not be happier about having the Pattersons part of the family. (After all, any offspring would likely follow the Judaic rule that the religious affiliation comes from the maternal side — making any children Bears fans). Besides we can still come together in our mutual aversion for the Lions and the Vikings. That was the subject of our party at my brother Dominic’s house in Naperville where he and Rose, my wonderful sister-in-law, served up outstanding Chicago-style Italian beef and sausage.
With almost 190 games between these teams since 1921, the long-standing football competition will only grow but we have two young lovers who have shown that love overcomes even the deepest divisions.
So, in honor of my niece and our new family member, Matt, and for the first time heard on this blog from its host . . .
Go Pack Go
. . . AND BEAR DOWN.