May 31, 2019 In 1963, I imagined myself as a big-leaguer. As an eleven-year old, I fit naturally in the Philadelphia outfield. This fantasy was fed by my ever-optimistic father. (“You have an arm like Robin Roberts”) My Uncle Gene, a Brooklyn guy, labeled me a “young Duke Snyder”. In reality, I was pretty awful, never passing the audition for Little League. Each year I was relegated to “diaper League”. (This was before we cared about the fragile ego of young boys). In baggy flannels and black oxfords, I patrolled an outfield realm where no ball would ever land. Small matter, my game was pure imagination. Baseball was the king of sports and its vernacular swarmed my consciousness.
Today, I still frame life in baseball terms. “I’ve lost a few miles off my fast ball.” Doesn’t that sound better than, “I am susceptible to tripping and frequently drop shit?” Like an aging pitcher, I wish guile and chicanery can replace lost skills. No one is actually fooled and it is time to be real. The pitcher’s mound looks like a mountain and it would require two throws to reach the metaphoric plate. A storm of disabilities is rolling in. There isn’t a rain-date. Pull the tarp over field and anchor it well. Game over.
Yeah, I am letting go and it feels sudden. The early, slow decline left plenty of room for possibilities. Can’t run? Hiking still works. Can’t bike on trails? Shady gravel roads are fine. Can’t paddle a canoe? A sit-on-top puts me on the river. The accelerated decline clangs a different gong. The cant’s are overwhelming the cans. They accumulate around my stumbling feet and pile up like tax liens in May.
I let go for a reason. Rearview mirrors are for freeways and sadness is a distraction that I don’t need. New eyes can explore a fresh landscape. With emotional turbulence flushed away, a transitional path winds from “was” to “next”.
First, comes a transitional debris field. No more attending to: tall grass, fallen snow, droopy limbs, drafty windows, empty wood-boxes. Steps, stairs, and thresholds are barely navigable barriers. Showers need grab handles. Shelves can be neither too high or too low. Throws rugs? Enough said. New shelter is sought while existing shelter is prepped for the next family. I am amazed how a beloved home diminishes to complicated chore list. Emotions fall away. I become a project manager navigating tarps, estimates, power cords, air-lines, misunderstandings, falling shingles, and shattered budgets. Best of all and hardest of all; I am completely on the bench. I dial the phone and write the checks. No regrets at all. Move on, move forward. No need to look back.