"There she is; beautiful, emphatic, with her familiar phrase and her laugh ... lighting our random lives as with a burning torch, infinitely noble and delightful to her children."
Virginia Woolf, Moments of Being
Row 4. Veterans Field. June, 2010.
When it comes to baseball, my mom has never been a season ticket holder, nor has she ever set her heart on one single team, as I recall. Maybe it’s because she gravitated toward football early on, during that magical time of life when games begin to take hold of a person. As the very pretty drum majorette at her small town high school, she was the one who got to lead the marching band and football teams on Saturday mornings in autumn, pumping that baton and smiling her way up Arnold Avenue before every varsity home game.
My mom can probably count on one hand the total number of major-league baseball games she has attended in her lifetime. And yet, she’ll gladly keep us company whenever we’re watching baseball, whether on television or at any random field. She showed up at her twin grandsons’ Little League practice just last Friday. She shows up. She happily sits on the uncomfortable aluminum bleachers at Veterans Field for nine straight innings, because that’s where her kids and grandkids gather almost every night in summer. She shows up, happy just to be with us wherever we are. She simply wants to be with us.
Baseball may not be her favorite thing in life, but for many years she has smiled upon my deep and abiding love of the game, wise in understanding the joys and disappointments it has thrown my way, both in childhood and in recent years.
My mother is a loyal reader of this blog. She looks forward to every new post; she praises the specifics of many pieces; she urges me to keep going at times when I’m inclined to give up. My mom is always in the stands. Mom, thank you very much for being such a supportive fan. I’m so glad you understand why baseball is important to me, and I love you.
I’ve been a mom for almost twenty-five years, and I learned from the best. Today, thankfully, my heart is full of Mother’s Day memories. For me, it’s not about the greeting card, the present, a bouquet of flowers, breakfast in bed, or the fancy cologne I mentioned in my previous post – and I don’t think it ever was for my mom either. It’s never been about presents or what others ought to be doing for me.
I never viewed the holiday as an opportunity to take a break from my three kids or as a reason to enjoy a day “off,” simply because I had supposedly worked so hard and it was high time for me to receive a little recognition. That’s just not me.
Mother’s Day is when I celebrate the fact that I have children in my life. I feel so blessed and privileged to be a mom. For all these years, I’ve enjoyed one of the most important forms of work that any human being can ever do. On Mother’s Day I don’t want presents. I just want to celebrate my children, dwell in the idea of them whether they are home or far away, because they are the gift. I simply want to be with them.
About ten years ago my youngest child brought home from kindergarten his very special Mother’s Day surprise. He was so proud of the tiny 2" hand-painted terra cotta pot that contained one small marigold plant, and especially pleased with the personal message he had penned in a circle of primary colors around the flowerpot: “I love baseball and I love you!” In permanent ink.
He was devastated, however, because the lone flower had begun to die, and to tell you the truth, it was a puny and sorry sight. The bright yellow blossom had turned a dull brown; it was all shriveled up and only getting worse. My son was sad and embarrassed upon realizing that he had given me a dead thing for Mother’s Day – that is, until I showed him how we could just pinch away that dead blossom, lightly water the plant, and wait patiently for new growth to emerge from tiny buds he hadn’t even noticed. See, there they are – look at them! Those buds would soon open so beautifully, and our flower would stay healthy and alive if we continued to pinch the dead stuff away and nurture the rest.
I love baseball and I love you! I was so happy and so pleased that my boy thought to mention me in the same sentence as the game of baseball.
More and more I hear evidence to support my longtime belief that baseball isn’t just fathers playing catch with sons. Moms matter too, more importantly than most baseball writers have ever sought to put into words. I’m struck by the fact that many baseball fans have memories of a mother who was once present in deeply significant ways - and not just in the laundry room or in a folding chair - when they first felt a love of baseball. A mother's presence (or absence) makes a difference in ways that are worth pondering. For whatever reasons, maybe because of this holiday, lots of people have been talking about their moms and baseball. Grandmothers too. Those poignant memories are amusing, sad, endearing, and very important.
I feel so fortunate that I can share baseball with my mom and with my three children. The game has often bound us together even as other things split apart. Many of our best moments have happened because of baseball. But we are not the only ones.
Tell me about your mom. Tell me the story of your mom and baseball and your love of the game. Please tell me your stories. I’ve told you quite a few of mine. I would love to hear your stories.