Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Request For A 10 01 Wake Up Call

Today is a day to be on the lookout for Dead Head stickers affixed to Cadillac bumpers. Summer's last gasp. You know you have reached the end of the season when you find yourself pinning your hopes to a Monday as the calendar equivalent of a stay of execution.

As is the case when the execution is merely stayed and the sentence is not commuted altogether, summer's dying breaths shall be breathed today and tomorrow. Fall will be on us in the person of Tuesday morning before we know it. And the memories of this season, while recent in time, will seem locked away in the far corners of our mind's eye.

It seemed to be only yesterday that I was cutting out of work early to catch a Friday evening flight to Denver so Rob and I could spend Memorial Day together. What a weekend that was. As someone whose father died before I reached high school and with whom in the final couple of years of his life I had a relationship that was strained (perhaps merely typically so for an adolescent teen and his male parent), one of the great days of my life was May 31, 2010. Twenty-nine years to the day after my father died in my parents' home, I ran 6.2 miles in the town where I attended college twenty-plus years ago.

And I did so - side by side and stride for stride - with Rob. We ran into Folsom Stadium - a place where as a much younger man I had spent many an enjoyable Saturday (including one in October of 1986 when the Buffs defeated Nebraska in Boulder for the first time since Ike had been President) - together. As I ran across the finish line, located on the visitor's side of the football field, having first run up the home sideline, past the student section and around the enclosed end of the stadium, I looked to my left at my son. Immediately I knew what was - and what shall be even if I live another 1000 years - the best moment I would ever have at Folsom. I smile every time I think about it. I am smiling now.

Suzanne completed work on her Master's Degree shortly before the summer began. She started her career - at Kessler in West Orange (the job she called her "dream job" from the moment she interviewed for it) in mid-June. She is a Speech Language Therapist for patients in the Institutes's Brain Trauma Unit. I must confess that I have little grasp of what it is she does for a living, which is a reflection on either the unknown trauma to which I have subjected my own brain or its innate limitations. I know however that I love the joy and the passion with which she describes to Margaret and me at night the million little miracles that comprised her day. Suzanne is every inch her mother's daughter. She is passionate, whip smart, driven and (even though she does not always realize it) fearless. Like her mother, she will be successful throughout her life because the possibility of being anything but does not ever enter her mind. I smile every time I think about the life-changing steps she has taken over the course of this summer. I am smiling now.

Summer in our family - at least the past three summers anyway - has not come to us without extracting a price from us. Two years ago it took Nan and Meni. Last year it cut us to the quick when it claimed Suzy B. Just this past week, it took Junior. I was thinking about Junior yesterday afternoon as I watched Marcus Thames (a/k/a as the Best Off-Season Acquisition in a winter that saw perpetually disabled Nick Johnson and perpetually disappointing Javy Vazquez return to the Bronx) blast a two-run home run in the bottom of the 7th inning, which proved to be the difference as the Yankees won their eighth consecutive game.

Junior was an avid Yankees fan (Auntie Ann is as well). Earlier this summer, when cancer was really starting to exact its terrible toll upon him, Margaret and I popped by their house to drop off for him a pair of Yankees lounging pants that Margaret saw while we were in a store somewhere. He was a small man so while the pants were either a size Small or Medium they were nevertheless far too long. Ann took them to a friend of theirs who is a seamstress to have them shortened.

When Ann picked up the pants in their tailored form - her friend had a surprise for her. Rather than discard the extra material, she used it to make Junior a little pillow. His Yankees pillow became one of the items he valued most of all during the final few weeks of his life. In the week since his death, the team he and his beloved bride rooted for so hard has provided her and hers a modicum of solace. They have refused to lose. In a week that has been nothing short of brutal, their beloved Bombers have done their part to pick them up. The Boys of Summer indeed. Wayfarers optional.

Summer has indeed come and passed..........again.

-AK

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