By now you should know that I am a big Oakland A’s baseball fan. My love affair started when my family moved to Oakland in 1968. We used to get A’s tickets as rewards for being on the traffic squad in elementary school. This was in the days before night games, so when the A’s were consistently in the World Series in the 70s, the administration used to bring a big t.v. into the auditorium on a cart, and we could get out of class to watch part of the game. Our family even got to go to a few playoff and World Series games.
After World Series victories, of which there were many, our family would travel downtown to enjoy the victory parade. The atmosphere was so exciting.
I remember anticipating attending my first game. My great aunt Zizi was taking me and my older brother and sister. I was so excited that I threw up–and then I didn’t get to go. I was relegated to my room, listening to the broadcast on the radio. My mom finally figured out I wasn’t really sick when I kept running into the room with updates from the game.
My mom once had a job at a pharmacy in the same building as the A’s team doctor. The players would often come in to have prescriptions filled. Taking advantage of the situation, my mom would get their autographs–four times over. One for each kid. She even volunteered to make a home delivery once, with me in tow, to first baseman Gene Tenace’s house. What a thrill. Captain Sal Bando attended our church, though he usually sat in back and slipped out when Mass was over.
I remember when pitcher Vida Blue was seen visiting a neighbor up the road. My sister Leslie jumped right out of her sick bed to hurry up the road with us to get his signature on our A’s caps.
I remember the days of Charlie-O, the big donkey mascot named after famed A’s owner Charlie Finley. We once had a carnival at our elementary school, and Charlie-O was a special guest. Those were the days. Baseball was king.
Just a week ago, pitcher Brandon McCarthy stood on the mound for the A’s, playing another game in a pennant race that is very exciting for A’s fans. One second he was pitching the ball to an Angel’s hitter, the next, he was on the ground, beaned in the head by a screaming line drive. Taken to the hospital a short time later, Brandon underwent a CT scan which showed he had suffered a fractured skull and would undergo surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain.
Praise God he is out of the hospital and recovering well, but his season is over. All in a matter of seconds.
When I was growing up, Zizi was an important part of holidays as she usually traveled from her home in Bakersfield to Oakland to spend the days with us. We would wait in anticipation for her big yellow car to make its way up our street. Her presence completed the holiday. Once I moved to Florida, I rarely got to see her.
On July 11th, my family and I arrived in Bakersfield, Calif., to visit Zizi and my aunt and uncle. I hadn’t seen Zizi in 9 years. For the rest of my family–except Morgan, who had been with me 9 years ago–it had been longer. We enjoyed our short visit, prompted by the fact that we didn’t know when or if we’d see Zizi again. She was 94, after all.
Two weeks later, on August 26th, Zizi awoke thinking it was going to be like any other day. She went to the kitchen to make her breakfast when something went terribly wrong. While cooking an egg on her stove, she suffered some sort of episode that apparently caused her to pass out and fall onto the stove. The result of all this was 3rd degree burns over 40 percent of her body. Three days later, she was gone, too badly injured to recover. One moment making breakfast on a regular day; three days later, gone.
Baseball and Zizi: forever linked in my life.
Life comes at you fast. You never know how long you’re going to have someone with you. I don’t want to waste one moment in harsh words or unresolved conflict. No regrets. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful epitaph?
“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure” (Psalm 39:4,5)
Thankful today for:
588. a tight pennant race