A few days ago, I posted about how my grandfather inspired me to become a better writer long after his death. (Click here to read that post.) https://iamcurious4.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/day-9-my-grandpa-and-slice-of-life/
Retelling the story has me thinking a lot about my grandpa. I have a lot of nice memories from my childhood. There is one in particular that stands out.
My parents, grandparents and I were relaxing in the backyard on a pleasant summer day. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the adult conversation. Instead I kept myself busy, doing what many 7 year old boys did at the time, played with action figures and cars.
As I grew tired of my toys, I turned my attention to playing baseball. I loved the game. I spent most spring and summer days playing whiffle ball in the backyard. A whiffle ball bat and several balls were permanent fixtures on our lawn.
My grandfather also shared my love of baseball. I was a Red Sox fanatic and he was a diehard Brooklyn Dodgers fan. While he never recovered from the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn, he adopted the Mets over the Yankees. I used to ask why he loved the Mets, not the Yankees. He was clear. “Scott, a Dodger fan can never become a Yankee fans.” We shared a dislike for the Yankees and love of the game.
I asked my grandfather to pitch to me. He was all too happy to oblige my request. However, my grandmother was not thrilled with the idea due to my grandfather’s failing health. He survived two significant heart attacks, so he was supposed to limit physical activity. My grandfather ignored my grandmother’s concern. He slowly lifted himself out of his lawn chair and approached me with a smile. My mother stepped in and said “Scott, grandpa can pitch, but you have to bring the balls back to him after you hit them.”
That didn’t faze me. My grandparents lived in New York City and we didn’t see them too often. They stayed with us for a month in the summer. I cherished the time when my grandfather gave me his undivided attention.
We took our positions. While my grandfather was standing about 10 feet away on the pitching mound, I held my whiffle ball bat in my carefully crafted batting stance.
He had three balls in his hand. He pitched all three then I put my bat down and said, “Don’t worry, grandpa. I’ll get the balls!”
I retrieved the balls sprawled across the yard and handed them back to him. We repeated this routine at least fifty times that day. He must have thrown 150 pitches. I remember being overwhelmed with happiness. I wanted the moment to never end. I had all of my grandfather’s attention.
As I think back, it was one of those moments in life when everything slowed down and my mind was focused on the moment, not distracted by anything else. It felt so special. This was the last time that we played ball together, as he passed away a few weeks later. While he was gone, he left me with a memory that will last me a lifetime. For that, I am grateful.