Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Time flies - at supersonic speed

My 2007 baseball season came to an sudden and unexpected end.

On Friday 8/17, Irish Night at NYSEG Stadium, it rained and blew, but Livianna, Grace, Mellow, and I toughed it out. There was an inflatable Irish pub off the third base side. I wasn't' curious enough to see what beers or ales they might be serving out there to make the trip, especially keeping in mind how high the prices probably would be. When the wind picked up, they had to deflate the pub and fast! When the rain got too heavy, we headed downstairs, with everyone else in the stands, but just to make a pit stop. We got separated and I headed up to the seats assuming Liviana and the girls would already be there, but no. So I did something I hate and mock; I used my cell phone to call them to find out where they were. Coming up the steps even as we speak. Once the wind died down, the pub went back up, and quickly.

Saturday, my writing bud Soupbone came down and we took in our first game together. It's my zen place, and he needs zen occasions. It happened to be Blues Night, the Blues Brothers performing, which was fitting since Soupbone loves the blues, took a long vacation biking through Blues country this summer.

Sunday was a day game, a really sloppy game, but who cares, it was a nice day and they were playing ball in the sun.

Then Monday, 1 AM, my father woke me up, asked me to take him to the hospital and my life was turned upside down.

He had a stroke, stayed at the local hospital for a week, but kept deteriorating so he was shipped to the stroke center at the medical school hospital. He was in the neurology ICU for another week, upgraded to stable and moved to the rehab unit at the hospital for a few weeks then to another rehab facility where they determined he was unable to benefit further from therapy, so now it's a waiting game to find him permanent placement in a long-term care facility, a nursing home. I'm trying to have him moved closer to home so I can visit him more often. Between working two jobs, doing the full prep for the baseball class instead of 1/3 of them, trying to write for my learning contracts to complete my creative writing degree, and the constantly rising price of gas and my fuel efficient car in the repair shop most of the fall so I've been driving dad's gas guzzler, it's been difficult getting up there to see him as much as either of us would like. People ask me how dad is and it's hard to tell them. If I say he's okay, I mean he's alive and in stable condition. He cannot move his left side, he can't talk--he talks a blue streak but it's gibberish, though occasionally he can say a word or two that's intelligible and he can say yes and no-- he understands most of what is said to him though he doesn't remember he had a stroke and says he's ready to leave this place, he also can't swallow (the stroke disabled the muscles in his throat) so he's fed liquids through a tube into his stomach.

My mother had Alzheimer's and my father insisted on keeping her at home as long as he could possibly care for her, with my help, through all the stages of the disease. When it is said Alzheimer's destroys a person's memory, it is not only the memory of who people are but how to do things, until the person with the disease regresses to a dependent infantile state, needing to be fed and dressed and diapered. He finally had given in and put her on the waiting list for a nursing home, just two weeks before she died. So I've been through this before, only this is worse because my father had each other to lean on and I am now alone to deal with it.

I spent Labor Day weekend at my father's bedside in the neurology ICU, and wished that I could be at the ballpark, the place that has long been my sanctuary. Throughout my mother's long illness, I escaped to the ball park Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons whenever I could because it was the only place I could find peace. And I needed peace, still do.

The remainder of the major league season? Didn't exist for me, and the World Series, second win in four years for the Red Sox, was a blur. Of course, as I told people back in 2004, once the Sox broke the Curse everything else would be gravy. It was a nice win, but not the marvelous joy of 2004.

This fall instead of team teaching the baseball class (I recently heard it referred to as "Baseball Culture," I like that), I did the class on my own. Which was good, but I didn't have lessons and lectures prepared for 2/3 of the topics that my partner in crime usually covered. We covered topics that previous classes hadn't touched on, and our focus was sometimes shifted. And throughout the semester, my students wanted to know when the Mitchell Report was coming out. I predicted as close to Christmas as possible so it would get reduced media attention. I was close, it came out the day after our final class meeting. It was a great bunch of students in the class this year. Only two women, but one of them was an outspoken member of the class. She was also the one who is considering a career in baseball, this side of the fence. A number of students are members of the college's baseball team, adding a different spin to things at time.

The co-instructor does the class online in the spring and summer, and he had mentioned he was thinking about changing the reading list, maybe adding a biography. Since I had turned more than once to Jim Bouton over the semester, I suggested Ball Four. He was concerned that it might be dated and/or risque. Please. It was the original tell-all baseball book and is pale in comparison to those that have followed. I like it for the class because it was the original, and it a true baseball player's voice, not an as told to (though editor Leonard Schecter had a strong influence on it). We've been relying on David Halberstam's October 1964 as a period piece, to explore race relations in the US, and I think Bouton's book would be a good companion to it. We talk about hero worship in the course, how ballplayers have been viewed by society over the game's history, and Ball Four punctures that nicely.

I'm ready for a little distraction. How many days till pitchers and catchers report?