…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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Happy Father’s Day

I’m fortunate to know several incredible men who aren’t fathers. They’re men who had fathers; they’re men who nurture and care for those around them – families, students, and friends alike. To them I say, Happy Un-Father’s Day!

In my own game of life, many of the fathers closest to me were nothing like Ozzie Nelson or Ward Cleaver, or even Mike Brady.

Abandoned as a youngster by his own father, a young man grew up to suffer prison camps in a foreign war.  He returned home to San Francisco, broken and worn.  He married his sweetheart, he became a father.  Three children and years later, he took off to live with another woman and her children from a different father, leaving his young family to make their way on their own.  We did fine.

Another father – he hit his sons and he hit his wife.  I knew he had an anger problem.  His mother told me years before, warning me.  Eventually, I left him behind.  He went on to marry his high school sweetheart and live happily ever after.

One father of three walked out when his youngest child was just an infant. Years later, he traveled half way across the country to find us, apologetic, on his knees.  And then, just as we felt comfort settling in, he killed himself with a rope around his neck.

Even as father scars smoulder and rumble today in the tiny edges of my heart, I savor the love and happiness of the very best fathers and grandfathers and brothers and sons in my extended family that stretches from Massachusetts and New York to Florida, from Arizona to Colorado and California.  All I know now are warm embraces and happy endings.

These guys, they create miracles.  They nourish, they love.

They kiss and they hug. They teach, support, laugh and have fun.

They stay.

To all the great fathers in my life, famiIy and friends alike, I say, with balloons and banners flying,

“Happy Father’s Day.”

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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