…and the Cubs Win!

I was over at my daughter and son-in-law’s house this morning, keeping an ear out for my 4-year-old grandson playing in the next room. My fingers paused on the laptop keys as I waited for the creative juices to kick in. Please kick in. I wanted something fresh and funny for the upcoming open mic.

Problem was, I wasn’t feeling fresh and funny. I was feeling worn, torn, and battle fatigued with the overwhelming election coverage this year. The Cubs’ World Series win brought me much needed relief and excitement — even if it was drawn out over and over again. That high didn’t last near long enough. I was missing that consummate Cubs fan who killed himself ten years ago. The big win was just one more in a string of life events he’s missed out on.

An hour later, I was still looking at a white screen without one string of words to be seen.

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You know why?

Well. My friend had some studying to do, so I suggested she bring her 4-year-old daughter
over to play. The more, the merrier is my motto. She dropped off her daughter along with the best of offerings — doughnuts, coffee, and hot chocolate. Woo Hoo!

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Twenty minutes later, it was time to wash and dry those cute little hands and faces. Time
to chase the dog back out after she knocked one of them onto the floor. Time to put that laundry in the dryer. I checked my email. Ah hah! A personal note from the Clinton campaign. Please, would you donate just one dollar? Sure, here’s 5. Would you like to double that? Sure, make it ten. Get out the credit card and load up the webpage with all the necessary information. Thanks – want to give more? No. Not today.

Then I checked Facebook. I peeked at a bit of online campaign news. I clicked around youtube and listened to a couple of tunes. First there was Bob Dylan, then John Lennon. I felt better. Kids were playing nicely. They were chattering away and giggling in their own little world.

So, anyway, I got back to business. It was a sunny day outside and I glanced into the living room. My eyes landed on Mollie’s memorial corner. Three framed portraits hang over the aging upright piano.

Lowell: strong and courageous father of three sons, dressed in his lifelong beard and glasses. Mollie’s husband’s father, he died just last year, after a tough battle with aggressive metastatic melanoma. He was such a wonderful man, full of love and passion… a man who would do anything for his family.

Katie, my beautiful grand-daughter, gone from us much too soon. I look at her smiling, in her pensive way; I wonder what she was thinking when that picture was taken. Our hearts broke the day she died, leaving behind her baby boy Jack. Her laughter had filled our world. We miss her so much.

And Matt, my former husband, father of three, baseball fan extraordinaire, former Stratamatic player and political junkie, a voracious reader who died before Mollie even knew she’d be marrying Matt, her new boyfriend.

Each of them gone now from this world for widely different reasons, each one of them leaving a big hole in my heart. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t imagine Katie or Matt or Lowell standing with us in the sunshine, laughing at a birthday party, playing with the kids, or repairing something or other.

Cheering the Cubs.

Damn. Pass me that doughnut.

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Postcards in Paradise – Letters from Home

The postcard in my hand is so old I’d expect it to be worn and frail and downright unimportant.  It’s not, though.  It’s one more amazing golden star resting among years of memories.  Life and love that I’ve discovered again in a bin in the basement.

Cattle punching on a jack rabbit in Arizona

Cattle punching on a jack rabbit in Arizona

The cowboy doing his day’s work on the back of a jack rabbit still cracks me up.  Cristy’s words touch my heart, make me laugh and warm my toes.  Long flowing letters from Lynda fill my heart with joy.  I chew on my bottom lip and take a deep breath reading love words from a lover long gone.

For days now, I’ve been walking from the warmth of my home, across the driveway in the rain and into the dank basement.  Each trip, I grab one more plastic bin full of flashbacks to carry into my study.

Hand painted by Fleta Stephens

Hand painted by Fleta Stephens

I’m in no hurry as I bend over and pick up a memory, one at a time.  Photographs, loosely tossed  among letters and proclamations and typewritten resumes and newsletters.  Handwritten postcards and Christmas cards and birthday cards, sympathy cards.

Bent or broken picture frames, some empty, others as if they just fell off the shelf.  Drawings by young children and more than a pair of white leather baby shoes.

Three Baby Shoes

Three Baby Shoes

Sure, I have picture albums.  They sit on my bookcase.  They’ve been sitting around on my bookcases for years.  We look at them on occasion, friends and family.  And, yes, I have thousands of jpgs and pdfs and pngs in folders all over my computer.  I print them out often enough.

Memory Bins

Memory Bins

But the bins, that’s where the real treasure lives.  What draws me into the bins is not the written word or the color on the postcards, the letters, or the drawings.  It’s the love stretched across the years from one hand to another.

I’m afraid that all of our easily computerized ‘stuff’ could be depriving us of a future full of overflowing boxes and bins in the basement.  We need to hold those sentiments in our fingers, in our hands, as surely as we need to hold a book bound by stitching in our lap.

hat day yankees05122014So, today, before I completed this story to you, I wrote a letter to someone dear to me.  I’m going to lick that stamp and stick it in the top right corner of an envelope and send it off.  And then I’m going to print off this page, sign it and put it in a new book for someone to pick up years from now when they’re going through bins in the basement.   Maybe it will be me.

Are you missing that feeling of having a letter in your fingers, or a postcard from paradise?  Send me your address.  I’ll send you one.  From my hand to yours.  Who knows?  We could start a trend.

As for the bins in the basement, I have a plan.

 

Batter Up!

First Game, World Series, 2014

Ball 1. 

Before we met, long before he was my husband, when he was just a kid, Matt was a bat boy for the Cubbies.  My heart often wanders to him during baseball season.  He was the super baseball fan – stats, hits, runs, errors, he knew them all.  Until the last inning when he shocked his fans.  When he decided he wasn’t going to take another hit.   He grabbed a foul ball and walked off, leaving the infield torn and wondering, even now, after years of tears.

Strike 1.  Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the USA.

Ball 2.

If his heart was still pumping, Matt’d have a hard time choosing where to watch the game tonight.  I can still see the picture of our oldest son, 6 weeks old, on the front page of The New York Post, October ’81 in his baby Yankees warm-up suit.  ‘Still hate the Dodgers. Now the kids are San Francisco Giants Fans – Always October.  Would he partner up with the guys?  The youngest one, he definately inherited Matt’s sports fan genes.  Glove in hand, they’d catch every minute – breathless for the win.

Strike 2.

With our daughter?  In her black and orange, cheering sparkling wet eyes on the game, sorrow in her heart, rubbing her abdomen, ever so gently, grieving for the baby we all thought would show up just in time for spring training.  Struck out with no chance to suit up.

Ball 3.

One out of 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage.

Full Count – Homerun!

Giants take the lead!  Everyone on their feet!!  Cheers and beers!

Batter up.

Grab your hat.  Grab your glove.  Wait for the next pitch.  And hold onto your heart.

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