I walked in to the house and before I saw them, I heard it. The crack of the bat, the cheer of the crowd, the droning on about stats from the on-air commentator. Ugh. Why were my parents so enthralled with baseball, of all things. It seemed like every time I came to visit, Mom and Dad were in their recliners stretched out for the evening in front of the TV with none other than the Royals to watch.
I gave Mom a hard time about it constantly. WHY would you want to waste a perfectly good evening watching something so boring? I remember throwing out the little-known-fact that I probably deflated slightly, that in a four hour which seemed like 14 hour baseball game, the time the game was actually being PLAYED, the time the ball was “in play”, was actually something like seven total minutes. The rest of the time was spent watching a player scratch himself, or waiting on the pitcher to quit head-nodding to the catcher, or watching the camera pan to the crowd, or watching the guys in the dugout spit seeds and chew. NO. THANK. YOU. I had better things to do with my time…like watch episodes of “Real Housewives” or the latest “Criminal Minds.”
The thing was, the Royals weren’t even a decent team. The least Mom and Dad could do was choose a WINNING team. How fun could it possibly be to watch LOSERS night after night after night? But watch they did. And loyal they were.
And then my life fell apart. It seemed that almost everything that I had known and loved was suddenly turned upside down, ripped out from under me, or thrown in a blender and looked nothing like it had. If you know me, you know. Most of it was my own doing, some not. But as the world turns, my choices affected my whole family, including Mom and Dad. They grieved with me, they moved with me, they began a new life with me. But through it all, they remained loyal to the Royals…and to me.
And because of their loyalty, a little crack in the armor formed. We spent quality time together. We attended a couple of Royals games, and you know what? I didn’t mind so much. I was at the stage in my loss that ANYthing positive was gain, including a day at the park with my Mom and Dad. Including an evening in front of the TV with a little ribbing going on. And then, it happened. I began to recognize some of the players’ names. When they would win, it was kind of nice. I became a resident of Kansas City and figured I better hoist myself onto this bandwagon, even if it was with a lot of effort.
TV programs were no longer a priority in my life. It was more important for me to stop and smell the roses. To enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. To not waste a minute of time with my parents. To be grateful for every single gift, big or small. The crack widened. I began to notice the simple joy this little baseball team brought into my Mom’s life. Her health was diminishing at a faster rate than we all wanted. Her days were filled with difficulty breathing, with longer naps, with feeling useless and a burden. But there were a few things that still brought a smile to her beautiful face: the bouquet of flowers in my Dad’s arms when he would come home from work, seeing Natia’s excitement and wagging tail, a phone call from anyone in the family, a surprise visit, pictures of her grandchildren, hearing a beloved hymn, a little Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, and watching her Royals.
Mom wasn’t here long enough to see the tide change. She left us and went on to Heaven. But in her leaving and absence, she created her own little cheering section of loyal Royals, and now it’s hard to miss a game. I don’t watch one inning without thinking, “I wish Mom were here to see this.” It has been a fun two years, watching this “little team that could” become the little team that is, and now, the little team that did. The other night when I voiced once again my wish that Mom were here to see this, Sam said, “She IS seeing this, Rhonda. She IS.”
Oh, to hear her one more time, saying, “Wooooooo-hoooooooooo!” or “Yi-peeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
I am grateful for the times I have had sitting in the stands at Kaufman Stadium with my parents.
I am grateful for the gift and the joy created from a winning team that no one thought would get this far.
I am grateful that my Mom and Dad are excellent examples of loyalty, even in a simple object lesson such as baseball.
Do you hear me cheering, Mom? Did you see that awesome defense in the outfield? Isn’t this a blast?!
They did it, Mom and Dad. They did it.