One of the fondest memories I have of my childhood goes like this – I was in elementary school one day, and I was called to the office because my father had come to get me.
This was unusual. For the most part, if I wasn’t feeling well, he’d insist I go to school. On the rare occasions when I wasn’t feeling well and convinced my mother to let me stay home, he’d get angry. Missing school was bad.
As it turned out, he had tickets to an afternoon Mets game, and he was taking me out of school so we could go. He had never done anything remotely like that before, and he would never do it again.
He died at 37 when I was eleven, and I’d be hard pressed to think of too many other positive moments with him. He could be a difficult man. He drank, and he didn’t take care of himself. When he started feeling bad (turns out he had cancer) he didn’t go to the doctor until it was way too late. A lot of people came to his funeral and genuinely mourned his passing, but they saw a side of him that I only saw once. What a waste.
But for that day at Shea Stadium, all was well with the world, and a father and a son played hooky from work and school and came together at a ball game. I don’t remember who pitched or even who they played – I just remember being at the ball game with my dad and being happy.
I don’t believe in looking back with regret, but I regret that I didn’t have more days like that.
I’m a Met fan because my dad was, and a baseball fan because he was, and there’s probably a lot more of my personality than I’m willing to admit that I inherited from a guy I barely knew. These silly games in which fully grown adults run around a throw and catch and hit a ball are phenomenally trivial on the surface, but they give us the chance to build friendships, and express joy, and act like schoolchildren when we’re supposed to be worrying about our mortgage, or our job, or world peace, or other important stuff.
Two years ago, when my wife, my daughter and I played collective hooky to go to Florida while I played baseball, my father was there as well, and after thirty years I finally forgave him for being a crappy father. Maybe I was trying to relive that day at the ballpark as a kid, and to be honest, it worked.
And it worked so well that I’m going back to try it again.
Okay, enough of that – tomorrow’s post will be funny, I promise.