Todays sunshine, warmth and disappearing snow brought me back to a happy time.
Appearing with a wanting smile and two mitts, both mine, the question was, “Dad, can I pitch some to you?” It seemed curious timing, as that morning I had begun my annual spring ritual of jogging to lose my “winter coat.” As a result, my aching legs had very little interest in the squatting position. “Yeah, sure,” I responded, and out to the street we went. The sun was bright and higher in the sky than it had been for all of that long winter when snowfall set all time records. On this day, small rivers, trickles of melting snow glistening in the sunlight, ran swift, carrying away the remains of unending winter storms. “Okay, just work on your control first,” I suggested, as the first offering sailed over my head on its way down the hill. My heavy, lifeless legs resisted the chase, but eventually carried me to the now wet, sandy ball. “Sorry Dad” was barely audible from up the street. “It’s alright,” I assured as I trudged up the hill and back into a squat. “WHAP,” the ball smacked firmly into my glove for a strike. “SKIT-WHAP,” the ball skipped low and slapped firmly into my thigh for a ball. “Sorry, Dad” again came lowly from up the street. The catch continued for awhile; the kid working on the mechanics of pitching, the old man working on leaden legs and the positive aspects of pain. Then the hurler’s throwing hand stayed in the glove too long before the ball arrived. Suddenly, the little face contorted as if every finger had been crushed. Limping toward me, I wondered why a limp was accompanying an injured finger… Anyway, after hearing just how bad it hurt and wiping away a few tears, it was back to business. To help ease the pain I advised, “It’s a good idea to wait until you catch the ball before you put the other hand in there.” The look returned indicated no amusement. The session continued. Finally, an errant pitch rolled into some bushes on the other side of the street. As I leaned down to retrive the ball, the wonderful scent of green filled my senses. The vision of fishing that ball from the bushes and smelling the season of spring brought me back years to those early spring games of catch as a youngster. Back to a time when playing catch was all that mattered. As I walked back and tossed the ball to a beautiful young lady named Jessica, I realized that at times, it’s still all that matters.