What is your only comfort?

Urban God-talk for the church-o-phobic.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The White Sox and grief revived


All day yesterday I walked around with a bad case of the grumps. Nothing seemed to be going right: it rained, laundry seemed to overflow, my sermon wasn't finished. And I sulked around grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.

In attempting to figure out the cause of my cantankerous mood, I came up with some likely contributors:

  • having visited New Brunswick a few days prior and scratching off the scabs of some pretty deep wounds exposing some of the pain of what happened there last year.
  • the inevitable arrival of winter and the fact that it has rained for almost two weeks here.
  • the Chicago White Sox have finally made it to the World Series.

This last realization almost put me in tears. Even though my love of baseball is well past its prime (evidenced in not having watched even one game this year), the White Sox have a special place in my heart. My love of baseball developed at a young age, and to call it obsessive is to understate its complete and total manifestation in my life. As an adult, though, I came to see it as a way to know my grandfather more than anything else.

My paternal grandfather loved two things: baseball and firefighting. He loved children, but I have the sense that perhaps we might have scared him a bit. I realized at an early age that if I wanted to converse with Grandpa, it would be best to do it in his language - that of sports. At the age of seven, my parents moved from Michigan to Rochester and they transported my body along with them. My soul, though, remained for several years back on Lake Michigan. As a consequence, I became a Detroit Tigers fan. Kirk Gibson, Sparky Anderson and Lance Parrish became my heroes, and suddenly Grandpa and I had something to talk about.

Grandpa, though, was a lifelong White Sox fan. Coming from the south side of Chicago, he had little time for the Cubbies (or any other team for that matter). While my Tigers won the World Series in 1984, Grandpa remained steadfastly loyal to his team. I suppose that over the course of his lifetime the Sox taught him patience and finding some joy in one's suffering. But, in spite of it all, he never gave up on the possibility of 'next season.'

Next month will mark 15 years since my grandfather died. Within a few years of his death, my obsession with baseball waned. It was a language that I no longer needed to speak - or, perhaps, even wanted to speak anymore. It only served to remind me of what was no more.

My grandfather has been dead for half of my lifetime, but I still find moments when I mourn his loss with the same intensity as the month in which he died. I miss his dependability; his honesty; his leadership and role modeling. I miss our conversations and his wisdom. I miss his friendship and his teaching. Mostly, though, I just miss him. And now that his team has finally made it to the World Series, the pain of the loss has become all the more prominent throughout my days. I wish that he were here to enjoy the excitement of this year's October classic with all of its potential for complete victory or total failure. To watch his team actually win, and to know that hope is alive in pinstripes this year.

5 Comments:

At 9:07 AM, Blogger jo(e) said...

I find that things like grief and healing are cyclical, and often when I find myself in a bad mood for no apparent reason, it means that some kind of old grief or wound is resurfacing.

I hope you are being nice to yourself.

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger Scribe said...

Given what you have gone through in the past year, the degree of cheerfulness and trust in God you regularly display is remarkable. It is only natural that some moments open the past up in painful ways.

Last night I was showing my wife some music I had recently downloaded from ITunes, and then hit the button for Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" and we both became basket cases. We were missing our children, who are now in college. Loss and life-changes - sparked by a song or pinstripes. What matters is that we still feel and still love.

 
At 11:55 PM, Blogger terri c said...

I am about twice as old as you, and that is how old one needs to be to remember the White Sox winning the pennant in 1958, I think it was. Yeah, being a White Sox fan definitely taught delayed gratification.

Be gentle with yourself indeed, and perhaps in some world which we cannot apprehend from our earthly perch your grandfather will be watching his team after all.

 
At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Towanda said...

Rejoice in the memory of your Grandpa, and root, root, root for the Sox in his honor.

Baseball, like life, is cyclical, which is one of the beautiful things about it.

I.E. Your grandpa probably watched while Ozzie Guillen was playing SS for the Sox...and now Ozzie's managing...

The game's a beautiful thing...

 
At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Towanda said...

Rejoice in the memory of your Grandpa, and root, root, root for the Sox in his honor.

Baseball, like life, is cyclical, which is one of the beautiful things about it.

I.E. Your grandpa probably watched while Ozzie Guillen was playing SS for the Sox...and now Ozzie's managing...

The game's a beautiful thing...

 

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