On Thursday I completed my last western swing of this journey. I met my daughter in Chicago to go to a Cubs vs Brewers game. Sami took the Amtrak train down from Milwaukee. I picked her up and we drove over near Wrigley Field to park and find a place to have breakfast. I was happy to see her since it had been a month ago I started working my way West. Not being able to see her at least once a week has been hard. We normally get together for breakfast or dinner and watch a movie if there is time. She is growing up and is going into her sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin. The thought occurred to me that she might never live with me again. Of course, this makes me sad; but, it is part of the deal being a parent.
As we ate breakfast and discussed ‘all’ life situations and funny moments. Subject matter that I had already heard about, but being with her made it better. I was happy she agreed to go to a game with me. I figured she would get bored since she really isn’t into sports. She enjoys the Badgers basketball and football games, and will go to an occasional Brewers baseball game. The social aspects is what is attractive to her. Youth? Maybe, but lots of people, young and old, go for that reason. I didn’t teach her about the game of baseball because I assumed that she wouldn’t care. However, as we were watching the Cubs and Brewers, she started asking questions and I started explaining. Surprisingly enough, she started understanding. Up to this point, she was bored, and she was tired. I thought of Anthony, from England, whom I watched a game with during Spring Training. He wanted to know what the base coaches did and why they were standing where they were on the field.
I realized, again, this game can be very confusing if you don’t understand some of the little nuances. My daughter started picking up on the things I had explained. She started saying things made more sense. I was disappointed in myself that I never took the time to explain when she was younger. I figured she was to much of a “girly girl” to want to learn. My daughter is this very bright, intelligent, fun loving and, to me, the most beautiful person that I know. And, I forgot to include her in my passion. Hopefully, she will want to go to more than just an occasional game in future years. I enjoyed my time with her as she is very open and honest with me. Or, should I say, as open and honest as sophomore in college can be with her “at times” overbearing father. The Brewers beat the Cubs. We sat in the bleachers directly under the big scoreboard. It was a great day for a game. The Blue Angels were flying overhead practicing for the Air Show this weekend. I took the long way home and continued talking about “life” with Sami. Overall, one of the best days I have had.
On Friday, I went to a game in Rockford, Illinois. The game was between the Rockford Aviators and the Normal Cornbelters in the Frontier League. The game was an offensive routing as the Cornbelters destroyed the Aviators, 20-7. The great part of this game, I got to go to the game with a boyhood friend who was one of my first friends when I moved to Ashland. “Ole” and I met in fifth grade. I probably slept over at his house on Friday, or Saturday night, for years through middle school and into high school. We discussed what has happened in our lives since the last time we saw each other and laughed about old memories. It felt like we were back in eighth grade. His laugh was the same and he was quick to smile. He made fun of himself about things he did and how he used to be.
While watching the game, we discussed all things Ashland like I have with others I have gotten to see on this trip. Ole said, “Rockford isn’t good” before we even went to the game. I think he realized the game didn’t matter once we got there. It was about being in the crowd talking about life. What I love most about him is his introspective nature and that his emotional intelligence off the charts. The game was a long one. I did two interviews, but it seemed to go by way to fast. He and I talked as we walked to our cars, gave each other a hug and went our separate ways. Ole is the guy I think of when I watch Stand by Me. He is the River Phoenix character to me. It had been ten years since I saw him last; and, twenty-five years since we really talked. I hope to stay in contact with him. (BTW, he has three daughters.)
I love this game of baseball, it connects people for so many different reasons. I was able to connect with my daughter in a way I never did before; and, I have gotten to reconnect with so many other people by just being open to it.
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