My dad passed away a year ago last Christmas. The holidays were a bittersweet time without him. As 2013 chugged along and life got back to the day-to-day grind, my sister received a message from a man I remember meeting at my dad’s funeral. He passed us his card, told us he’d umpired baseball with my dad for years, and said he wanted to share some things with us later.
Obviously, later meant much later. This past week, my mom, sister, and I went to a meeting of the umpire association where my dad worked and volunteered for many years before his “retirement” from baseball several years ago. The things he wanted to share were touching personal stories about how my dad had met and influenced a whole group of men the three of us had never seen before.
Of course we knew he umpired. My dad was a baseball fanatic, a true lover of the game. He played for many years as a young man, coached my sister and I in softball, graduated to men’s softball as he aged, and then returned to his true love playing in men’s leagues. He retired his glove after several seasons in the men’s senior league. What’s a grown man to do when he hangs up his uniform for the last time? Fortunately for my dad, he discovered what my family believes was his true calling: umpiring.
At this meeting, several men told funny stories about my dad during his umpiring days and they named an award after him and presented that award to three recipients during the meeting. My mom, sister, and I left feeling like these special people who took the time to share their memories had given us a gift. Even for my mom, it was like seeing a side of him we never knew.
Now that my son is starting his high school baseball career, I’ll take the time to really look at and appreciate the umpires who call his games. I might even thank them—if they call a good game 🙂
Has this ever happened to you? Has anyone ever shared an unexpected memory of a lost loved one? I sure hope so.
My daughter cried herself to sleep last night after thinking about how fast her childhood has gone by—and she’s twelve! Imagine how I feel, I wanted to tell her. I can still remember the wonder of her birth, her clumsy first steps, and her stubborn refusal to speak before she could form complete sentences.
My little get-up-and-go girl wasn’t one for cuddling (like my pass-out-on-my-shoulder son). One of my fondest memories was when she was just shy of a year and had a hundred and four degree temperature. She felt so poorly, that she let me cuddle her for hours in the emergency room. If I close my eyes, I can still remember the feel of her breath on my neck and the soft cotton of her Onesie as I rubbed her back.
I remember when my son called me a “big, strong woman” when I lifted a box of kitchen pans from Costco into our cart. Now that he’s taller than me, I doubt I’ll hear those words again. This week, he’s studying to get his learner’s permit. How in the hell did this happen?
Time is going by faster than I can catalogue all the memories. One of my greatest fears is getting Alzheimer’s and not being able to remember even the smallest things about my life. But before I jump to a disease that wipes my memories away, I also fear that I may be living each day without truly soaking up all the ways I can spend with my loved ones.
For the last fifteen years, I’ve been blessed—blessed beyond compare—to be a stay at home mom. I wouldn’t trade the experience for all the money, success, or fame in the world. But even being at home with the kids, I still know there were times I was too busy with something else to listen intently, watch them closely, or appreciate the joy of being around them.
So this morning (I’m writing this post on Mother’s Day), while they sleep on the day meant to celebrate my contribution to their lives, I vow to spend the rest of my days doing a better job of being their mom. It’s been the greatest pleasure of my life.
If you get a chance, share a memory of your kids with us. Just thinking of them will make us better mothers.
My family and I went to the Georgia Bulldogs football game on Saturday where they beat the snot out of the Auburn Tigers. We did the whole experience. We went to the corner of the field at the end of the game and cheered on the players as they went to the locker room. One of the kids even got a sweaty glove! They had their picture taken with the quintessential Georgia fan who paints his baldhead with a bulldog for every game and also with “Russ,” the UGA stand-in for the unexpectedly departed UGA VIII. They even rang the bell on North Campus—a tradition after every Georgia victory.
All in all, it was a great day and a wonderful tradition for our family. Both my husband and I went to the University of Georgia where we met and fell in love. After such an awesome day at our almamater, it got me to thinking about Penn State University. Our family takes great pride in being a fan of Georgia football. We have a well-respected coach and an iconic program. My memories of the University are so intertwined with my memories of Georgia football, I’m not sure how I’d feel if one or both were embroiled in scandal.
Of course, the verdict is still out on all fronts, but I feel for the alumnae and their families who, like us, have grown up loving the traditions around the esteemed football program. The victims of the scandal are the ones who deserve our most heartfelt support, but the alumnae and fans are left feeling…lost and not sure where to place their allegiance. I’d imagine they feel like I did when I realized Santa wasn’t real and that my mom was the Tooth Fairy—shocked, saddened, and very disappointed.
We have wonderful friends who are PSU grads and huge fans of the program. For their sake and for the sake of the victims, I hope everyone responsible is brought to justice. If we take anything away from this developing scandal, I hope it is the knowledge that sometimes doing the right thing, both morally and legally, is what being a true legend is all about.