Thursday, January 30, 2014

Catch Me If You Can

I think I get why my father got all misty as he watched the end of "Field of Dreams" with me. Sure, there was the overt connection between father and son. We certainly had baseball in common, at least from the spectator side of things. It was the way I learned about sports from my father. I watched them with him. We didn't play together that much. He was busy with work and so on. I didn't question it. When my brothers and I played softball in the meadow at our cabin, it was my mother who came down to pitch. My father was late driving up from town, and by the time we had dinner and attended to whatever wilderness survival chores we had to do, it was dark. Like Wrigley Field, there were no lights in the meadow.
I remember standing out in the street, tossing a ball back and forth with my little brother. There was a lot of "whoops, sorry" as we threw near our intended target, or dropped an easy one off the heel of our glove. The guy from across the street, who had three sons of his own, took it upon himself to come out and give my brother and I a few pointers. We listened intently and did the best we could with the coaching we got, and when somebody else's dad went back inside, we returned to our less-than-stellar technique. "Whoops, sorry."
When my son turned six, I took it upon myself to take him out in the front yard and have a game of catch with him. We were getting ready for tee-ball, and I wanted him to feel comfortable when the ball came to him. "How many more are we going to do?" He asked me. "About nine million more," I replied. And so we tested each other's limits. How long should a game of catch be?
Ten years later, I found myself in a meadow far away from the one in which I frolicked as a kid. My son had brought his favorite object to hurl: a Frisbee. We tossed the disc back and forth for half an hour. It was very reminiscent of the baseball toss I had shared with my younger brother. "Whoops, sorry." There were a few nice catches, and most of the time we came within walking distance of putting the disc near one another. But mostly we were having a catch. It felt good. Even if we still have a couple million left.

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