Thursday, August 11, 2011
Playing for Father Joe
"Let's Go Rose Park!"
"Come on, show 'em West Side"
The crack of the bat from the opposing team. The ball soared south-west, straight toward me at alarming speed; I steadied my hand, lowered it slightly and.... GA-WHOOSH! The ball was a imprisoned in my glove.
At that exact moment, I thought of one of my greatest heroes, a man who 30 years earlier had made similar catches: my dad, who I have lovingly nicknamed: Father Joe.
Truth be told, my giddy-nature and love-for-the-game has no doubt been influenced by a father who still watches the World Series religiously. Yet, as I have played for the past ten weeks, I am surprised by the increase of love I have felt towards my father. It has become my favorite game, because it is HIS favorite game.
Each time I have walked into the batters' box, my memory flashed back to four small kids, waiting anxiously on a front lawn in rural Utah, to hear the roaring sound of a white Chevy Sierra approaching our drive.
"Pitch for us Dad, please!" my brothers, sister and I would yell in unison.
And he'd pause--nonetheless thinking of his legitimate reason to walk in the house after a long day at work and then chores on the farm--pushing all thoughts away, he played.
Sometimes he'd stay for an hour pitching and watching us as we raced around homemade bases of irrigation boots, old bottles, or ball caps. And other times, he'd only stay for 15 minutes, so each one of us could hit at least once, before church responsibilities or farm chores called him away. Nonetheless, my brothers and sisters were delighted by every second he played.
Play I did these past ten weeks, every Wednesday night, I'd pause from my adult responsibilities just like my father and enjoyed the spirit of fun.
As I stepped on the field, be it at base or shortstop, I paused again to glance at my dad's favorite glove, marked with permanent black marker: WATSON. I'd smile, prepare my stance, and think: "Dad, this one's for you. I'm going to make you proud."
After some great catches, I couldn't wait until the game was over, so I could text Father Joe and say, caught one tonight: Watson Style!
These past few weeks have reminded me that our family relations are some of the best gifts we have been given. For as my hero has taught me, "In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time." (Utchdorf, 2010)
For 15 short minutes, have made all the difference for me 15 years later.
So let's play ball!
I'm playing for Father Joe.