It's a thrill to report Aunt Martha had a fabulous time at Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas, Sunday.
Carried to the game by siblings Larry Bluse and Cindy Boyer, Aunt Martha - in actuality, a photo of my late aunt - might have brought her beloved Green Bay Packers just the little bit of extra luck they needed as Green Bay beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25, in a thriller.
For those who missed it, two weeks ago in this space came a plea for someone who was heading to the big game to take Martha along for the trip.
To recap, Martha (Prusi) Alto was a devoted Packers fan who passed away not long before the Packers went on a tear in the 1996-97 season, winning Super Bowl XXXI. Martha's photo was carried to that game by Mining Journal Publisher Jim Reevs.
Flash forward to the next season. The Packers headed to San Diego to take on the Denver Broncos. No one was found to bring along the photo with them to the game and the Packers lost.
That's why the plea was made for someone to help out Martha's team by taking the photo deep into the heart of Texas to be there when the Packers played the Steelers.
In a case of beautiful symmetry, a friend from Negaunee, Lori (Johnson) Bluse, let me know her husband, Larry, was headed to the game and Aunt Martha's photo was handed off.
Basically at the same time, Larry's sister, Cindy Boyer, e-mailed me to let me know she and Larry were indeed traveling south for the game and would be happy to take the photo along.
Because in the initial column, I neglected to mention Martha's last name, neither knew at first who she was. But in keeping with how magically this all worked out, both Larry and Cindy knew Martha as they grew up in Republic, where Martha resided for many years.
Larry, in fact, graduated from high school with Martha's daughter, Val.
"The whole experience was just awesome," Cindy said in an e-mail. "It was fun to have Aunt Martha with us. I believed she enjoyed Texas... I placed Aunt Martha on my seat next to my seat cushion with the Super Bowl logo on it. I had her picture in my ticket holder along with a book cover from a small book about being No. 1 by Vince Lombardi Jr.
"It was a given that Aunt Martha would sit right on top of Vince in my ticket holder around my neck. I only took it off to let my brother pose with it and when I took a picture of it on my seat. During the game when we needed a big play, I would simply hold up Aunt Martha and say a little prayer. There were some tense moments, but I always had the feeling deep inside that it was all going to work out in the end ... and so it did.
"It is difficult to describe the intensity of it all. I was just so confident that Aunt Martha was going to bring the Packers good luck and with their skills, there simply was no question of what the outcome of the game was going to be."
Again, thank you to everyone who offered to take Aunt Martha to the Super Bowl. Calls and e-mails were received from all across the Upper Peninsula and it touched my heart so many people wanted to assist.
Martha's kids and grandkids were touched when they found out the photo was on its way to Texas. Like their matriarch, the Alto clan loves the Green Bay Packers. And while they still miss Martha every day, they were fired up to know through the kindness of other Packer backers, this special good-luck charm was in the thoughts of many.
There's an NFL lockout looming, so who knows what the 2011-12 season, if it even happens, will bring. But it's good to know that should Green Bay be participating in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, odds of finding someone to travel with Aunt Martha will be good.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org