Sunday, November 06, 2016

Final Out

When I woke up on Thursday, the World was different. I was different. The appellation "long-suffering" dropped away from that other sobriquet "Cubs fan." I spent five hours in front of a television watching all that history and all those curses drop away. That which could never happen had happened. The Chicago Cubs had won the World Series. As noted astronomer and Tweeter spent a good portion of the day before reminding us all of the historical perspective. The one that stuck with me was about how the last time something like this occurred Mark Twain was still alive. In the century-plus since the Cubs won it all, wars were fought, won and lost. Elections were held and contested while Democracy chugged along. Professional football was still a fringe sport. People lived and died without ever seeing the Cubs win a World Series, even though they saw Halley's Comet twice.
My grandfather didn't live to see Halley's Comet twice. He may never have walked out to look up at the night sky, but he knew the inside of that tavern in Salina, Kansas. His refuge from the pressures of being a family man, he whiled away the hours before he had to go home socializing and listening to the ball game. The radio kept him in touch with the only team he cared about: The Chicago Cubs. On Wednesday night, I'm guessing Ira Caven pushed away from the bar and hopped off his stool. Last call. It was time to go home.
When he got there, nobody was home. They had all moved to Boulder, Colorado. The series of events that lead to me sitting in front of this keyboard had been set in motion. I only met my grandfather once. He was frail, health fading, in a rest home. I took my cues from my father, who seemed to be anxious to be done with the visit, and so I never got to talk to him about the apocryphal story that has now been told for a generation or more about how we became Chicago Cubs fans. It has only now occurred to me how that might have made him feel. Would it be worth losing your wife and children to travel to see a World Series game?
I don't guess that was the precise transaction, but I would imagine the regrets he felt over the years were real and significant. Had the Cubs ended up winning back in 1945, maybe it would have given him some solace. I hope that now the curse has been lifted and Chicago World Series Champions is no longer a punch line he can rest more easily.
I know I will.

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