It’s an early Saturday morning. I put on my uniform, grab my glove, and jump on my bike. I’m riding to my team’s season opener; a double header! There is still a slight chill from the night before, it is only early spring. The dew is thick on the grass and the sun is just starting to warm the air. It is a perfect day for baseball.
Over the next four hours I play pitcher, catcher, third base, and even outfield; depending on what the coach and team needed. Every catch, every throw, every hit and play I made I heard a voice in the stands. I was embarrassed by this voice. It was loud and drew attention to me I didn’t want. I did not understand.
Love, given freely and unconditionally. Wisdom, a reservoir of life experiences both successes and failures. Courage, supporting a family never knowing what the future will hold.
Strong hands held me as I took my first steps. They protected me from harm and guided me in life. They sacrificed and provided for me, to afford me opportunities they never had. Countless hours spent running and chasing and playing and having fun. Zipping a ball back and forth in the front yard at what felt like a 100 miles an hour! Knowing to miss the catch would be a nasty shot in the face and the pride inside knowing I was returning the same.
These were the moments I cherished most with my father. I imagine he might feel the same. The time he invested and the love he poured into me, to prepare me for what I thought was just a game…ended up being my entire life.
I think back to that voice I remember hearing in the stands. The one that was cheering me on after every good play I made and bolstering my spirits after the ones that slipped by. That voice that I dreaded to hear because I was ashamed of the looks I got from my teammates for having such a loud supporter. I understand now.
That voice was loud because it was proud. Proud of me, his son, who he has poured himself into and is watching face down life’s challenges with a head held high; even if only on a baseball field. Finally, at 32 years old and a 6-year-old daughter of my own I realize how lucky I was to have such a strong supporter. No longer does the memory of that voice make me feel ashamed or embarrassed, but I am grateful and proud. Thank you dad for being that voice. For always believing in me and being in my corner.
Happy Father’s Day.