Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Home Run King

I remember the last time I saw my dad. I remember the last thing he said to me:


My brother played for the Zephyrs.

Z-E-P-H-Y-R-S, were the Zephyrs and were the best!

This was when the scores didnt matter because the game was filled with the desire to have fun, not to absolute oneself in the adult inebriant of victory.
I stood by my dad watching from the chain link fence to the left side of home plate. We didnt talk much and we never did but we loved each other. The makings of a father-son relationship that lost custody had put asunder. Awkwardly we reached for normalcy. Because thats the way it should be.
Ryan was up to bat. It was nearing the end of the game. Nearing the time that I would go live with my mom for a weekend; my father regained custody of us just a few years earlier. This was won in adult conversations with my mother, not in court. The pitch drew near as my brother lugged the bat slothfully across the plate. Connection. The ball flew low and hit the grass as soon as it appeared. Right field bobbled it around on the ground and finally scooped it up to throw it to first. Too late, and Ryan was already on his way towards second. The ball fell underthrown and rolled past the first baseman. By the time he picked it up and threw it to second Ryan was almost to third. The boys from his dugout where on their feet jumping and yelling. My fingers clenched through the large holes in the chain link fence and my eyes looked up at my dad and back to my brother. Third base coach was wind milling his arm and pointing towards home and Ryan didnt hesitate a second as he tore around the base. The second baseman stopped himself from throwing to third. He turned and threw the ball hard towards the catcher but it was once again too late. Ryan slid to home with time to spare and was mobbed by a team of screaming young boys. He was picked up and carried back to the dugout, everyone shouted his new moniker tumultuously: The Home Run King!

         Mom pulled up and I couldnt wait to tell her about Ryans triumph over a feat that many kids never can boast. We stood around in a circle talking about it- my brother and I bouncing details back and fourth. Having both perspectives made the story just as exhilarating to relive until it was time to go. I told my dad that I would see him Monday and he just smiled wearily and said:


The car drove out of town. I didnt know that I was about to leave a life that I knew well for so many years. But it wasnt my choice. It left me. Left me to live forever changed in a life thats the same, just missing one piece.

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