Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Catch - Part 2

The call I received from my daughter brought an instant smile to my face.

It was a beautiful spring day. The May flowers were in full bloom in early April and everything was primed to shake off the last remnants of the winter that wasn't. When my daughter told me that she and her boyfriend had just spent time playing catch, it seemed perfectly natural. Only I was just a little jealous that it wasn't me who was on the receiving end of her throws.

Our family lived in Tenafly for nearly a quarter of a century. Our house was small, a cape that we had to expand so that both of our children had their own bedrooms. But the backyard was big enough to allow for life's most essential element, throwing and hitting of a baseball.

Hitting was actually more than a little problematic. The outfield fence was probably no more than 80 feet from home plate, which was situated next to our small patio. And there was always the issue of a foul ball, which could potentially do damage to the house, or more specifically to the windows almost directly behind the batter's box. But throwing was in large measure without these potential pitfalls. So, of necessity, almost all of our time was spent on the art of fielding.

When the kids were very young, we stood but a few feet from each other. We would have a 3 way toss, and count how many times this skill could be accomplished without error. As time passed, the distance of the throws increased and the subtleties of positioning for grounders and fly balls began to enter the conversation.

Baseball was not a sport that came easily or naturally for my son. In very short order, it was clear that the major leagues was not his future destination. But that did not mean that our time in the backyard diminished. There was something much more important going on in these hours than merely chasing left and right for grounders that would bounce off roots of trees and disappear into the bushes.

My son says that my daughter was the athlete that I always wanted. But it was never the athleticism that mattered in the least. When I came home from work and the first thing that my daughter did was walk out to the backyard with her glove and mine,  tossing the softball in the air, what meaning did it have if she didn't turn out to be the star, or even a starter. Who cared, as long as she wanted to be in that backyard with me, and with her brother.

Early last week I asked my wife if she knew whether we still had the old mitts. I understand that it is hard for me to throw overhand without discomfort now, and that I reside in a high rise apartment building where open space is at a premium. I talked with her about the possibility of using some land that had an unofficial "keep off the grass" policy. And I envisioned those high pop-ups that sometimes gave my children such trouble settling under.

When I got that call from my daughter I knew that it was not only me who remembered those days in the backyard with such emotion. I will search through the closet when I get home this evening and hope that I find remnants of those times waiting for me. Great minds do think alike, and true love lives forever somewhere in that pile.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful…love your prose!