“We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, “Well, there’ll be other days.” I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”– Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, Field of Dreams,1989.
It only took an hour and a half to end but it was years in the making. For most, something like this is unrecognizable or maybe an afterthought at best. I’m not built like most. I see the significance in everything and overdramatize about it to the ridiculous. I was joking with a good friend of mine that I will write a sonnet about my kids changing their socks.
This event, though, was not only significant but heartbreaking and as usual I was the only one who noticed it. It occurred two weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon at the Cedar Park Youth Baseball League 14U field. With only one out left our batter took a third strike call to end the game and the season.
You are probably thinking, “Yeah, so? Your kids are always playing some sport you can blubber about and there is always next season.”
You would be correct; my children are doing something almost all year and I do blubber about them. However, this season was different. It was my oldest son’s season. Youth baseball is over for him but that is not what was significant about this game. He is playing pre-freshman baseball and if he works hard enough, he might even have a chance to get on the high school team so I am not lamenting the end of baseball just yet.
The end of this game was significant because it marked the last time I will ever coach my little boy again.
This is the Last Time I Will Coach My Son
Don’t get me wrong it’s not Field of Dreams where I will never “have a catch” with my son. We have baseball gloves and a backyard and baseballs aplenty to hurl at each other. But that game was the last time I will stand on the playing field with my son.
It’s the last time he will see his dad in the dugout. It’s the last time I will get to pat him on the back when he comes off the field after a great play. It’s the last time he will step out of the box, down in the count, and look across to me for that reassuring hand clap and the words, “You got this. Anything close son, put your bat on it.”
I have always said there is an established number of events allotted to us in this life. There are a finite number of sunsets over the ocean you will see, a certain number of beers you will drink or balloons you will pop in your lifetime. There is also a fixed number of times your child will say, “Daddy will you play with me?” and each time it happens the number is whittled down until one day you notice your son prefers playing with his friends rather than with his dad.
You realize at that point that the number has diminished to zero, never to be replenished. You look back and ask yourself if maybe you squandered some of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I know I have, maybe too many. Now you are the one asking him to play. Coaching sports was my way of asking my son to play with me.
I read a post by a woman who observed, sadly, the this was the last time she would wake her children for school a certain way, as they were moving on and growing up. Major events like graduations and weddings are anticipated and we shore up for them by bringing tissues and sunglasses to fend away the display of emotions. We haul all sorts of digital equipment to document the event so we can reminiscence years later.
The small ones, like waking your kids up, are so subtle that their passing is like a breeze, going mostly unnoticed and unrecognized, yet when you do recognize them they stop you in your tracks and cause your heart to gain 10 pounds. I suppose our parents are still noticing it in us, their growing children.
I know that ending this baseball season is nothing compared to those friends of mine whose children have left the nest. I still get to see my son every day. I also know that there are some parents of younger children who might read this and think, “I am not going to be able to deal with this when it happens.”
I have to say, as much it breaks your heart to see how temporary and short-lived the endearing routines of parenting are, it is just as joyous and fulfilling to watch them grow and become their own person. If you are lucky, you will see a glimpse of yourself in them.
As for me, I will continue to inject myself into my children’s lives in one way or another. I will write incessantly on even the most mundane tasks they perform. I will notice the “breeze” and quietly sigh at its passing. I will enjoy seeing the man my son is developing into and although it will continue to pass me by at an alarming pace, he can always look over to me for that hand clap to let him know,
“You got this. Anything close son, put your bat on it.”
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