To look at Mark and Tim and David now, it is impossible to imagine them sharing that one bedroom in the basement of this house. They shared everything, really, since there can be no secrets in such an arrangement. Tim was always in by 11:58 on weekends; Mark was the one who was late. "But you have to understand," says Mark, "Tim would come in with bloodstains all over him, having been in fights with his buddies all night. But he was in by curfew, so no problem. Me, I wouldn't be doing a darn thing but be out till 12:30, and my dad's about ready to kick my ass when I walk in the door. The seven worst words I ever heard were I'll talk to you in the morning. Now I'm supposed to sleep well?"
Terry and Bob were Canadians by birth. She grew up in British Columbia. He grew up in Alberta. When she was 16, Terry moved to Spokane with her mother. Bob's aunt and Terry's sister were friends. Terry and Bob met on a blind date. The family they raised together—Colleen, Mark, Tim, David and Shannon—remains as close as a twin-blade shave.
When they all gather in the backyard, as they have on this evening, Mark finds himself amid the fading laughter, lamenting that his father couldn't be here to turn the fun up a notch. Then, after a pause: "He is here," Mark says. "He's right there." Mark is leaning back, out from under the maple tree, fingering a star overhead. Star-spangled Spokane, indeed.
Long before the light had faded that evening, Mark had his picture taken in the backyard with a neighborhood boy who was wearing a Redskins jacket. Children call Terry on football Sundays. Is Mark there? She tells them Mark doesn't live here anymore, that he's in D.C. playing football today. On Monday the phone will ring again. Is Mark there yet?
The Rypiens stayed together in a convent in St. Paul during Super Bowl week. "I was just glad the Redskins made it to the Super Bowl," says Terry. "In my mind, I thought they probably weren't going to win. Buffalo had already been there. It was their turn." Well, as the press clippings that Terry keeps in an accordion folder will attest, the Redskins won, and won big. John Stockton left a congratulatory message for Mark at the Redskins' hotel in Minneapolis that night.
Mark spoke to Terry after the game. Four months before Mark played his first game for the Redskins, Bob Rypien died of a heart attack, in June 1988. "Don't worry, Mom," Mark now said. "I think Dad had the best seat in the house."
How could Mark know that? Terry Rypien was back home in Spokane by 10 o'clock Monday morning. The trees in her front yard were draped triumphantly in toilet paper. A banner was stretched across the front of the house: HOME OF SUPER BOWL XXVI MVP.
He is here. Dad had the best seat in the house.
How could Mark know that? It was three days before Terry first saw her son in the Disney commercial. You know the one. You know the song. When you wish upon a star...makes no difference who you are...anything your heart desires...will come to you....