Growing up, I looked forward to getting married and becoming a father. ln particular, I looked forward to having sons. I had no idea how challenging it would be; how rewarding it could be, how frustrating it could be.
The other night, I watched a video about a boy who has become friends with an elderly man, due to each being amputees and running together. It was much more than that, including powerful Divine Providence/serendipity. What has stayed with me the most though, is the father crying, all these years later, as he describes the day when he accidently caused the injury to his son.
I took my oldest sons to Yankee Stadium, the other day, for the first time. It was the first time at the NEW stadium, not the real one. The one where Ruth, Dimaggio and Mantle played. The one where my father took me numerous times when I was a boy. The real one. It was like a Pixar movie. It looked really great, almost like it was real. The worst part was that they built it to look like the old one. A historical stadium knocked down in order to build a neo-classical one nearby. Capitalism run amok.
I felt my dad’s presence as I walked, with my two sons, past the place where the old stadium used to be.
He used to drive us through the neighborhood after games and show us the apartment building where he used to live. It took a lot to picture that, as the building was only a shell, only used by rats and drug dealers.
He was a Yankees fan, so I suppose there was something Freudian about me becoming a Red Sox fan. Of course, continuing the picture, both of my older sons are Yankees fans.
I remember Willie Randolph, the Yankee’s second baseman in the late 70s coming to the plate 0 for 3. My dad said to me “Willie is due for a hit”. Of course, Randolph got a hit. I think I remember that happening more than once, although memory is a tricky thing.
At Monday’s game, Marcus Thames came up against a fastball pitcher. I leaned over to my son and said “If he connects, it is coming right here”. He did and it did. Meir got the ball. I would like to think that he will tell that story to his sons.
I was down in Baltimore yesterday. A former student passed away and I went to visit with his parents and siblings. It was the kind of visit that made me cry, although I waited until after I left before I let the tears fall. I spent most of the time speaking with his mom, a former colleague and his siblings, all of whom I taught. I kept on looking over at his father, one of the kindest, most decent people I know. He wasn’t speaking much, and I found myself wondering what he was thinking, what he was feeling. I hope the family can make it through this with the love, warmth, humor and humanity I saw there yesterday.
I was struck by how much the oldest son, who is engaged, looks like his father. I hope he will be as good as a dad to his children as his dad has been to him.
I got home and gave my sons some cards I had bought for them. After a day like that, hugs weren’t enough.
My oldest son started running with me last week. Sort of. We go to a gym where I rehab my knee and he runs on a treadmill, looking over from time to time, looking for a little advice and a lot of approval. I hope he sticks with it. It will be good for him, both physically and mentally. Of course, it will be good for me. And us. Please G-d, us.
My dad would have been 75 next Thursday, the first day of Rosh HaShana.
PLEASE donate in my mom’s memory to help children with cancer: