March 13, 2011

by

When I think about the date and what it means to me, I wonder how a boy grows up so fast and all at once makes decisions on his own. Unless it’s a big decision, he no longer calls home first. Ben turned twenty-two today. He’s been driving for six years and has been legal to drink for one year. He’s still alive, and I’m grateful.

The weather has turned warm here in the past couple of days and it feels like spring. I walked down below the house this morning, feeling the sun shine on my shoulders. I looked out at the backstop Bruce built when the boys were both in the thick of baseball. They spent hours hitting, throwing, practicing bunts and slides. They started with real baseballs, but their backyard field was smaller than a real one and I made them trade the hard balls for wiffle balls.

Ben was twelve and baseball was his life. One day, he stomped into the house and threw down his glove. “I’m not ever playing with him again. You can’t tell him anything. He doesn’t listen.”

Thirty seconds later, Ryan replayed the stomping and throwing of glove. He was six years old, but just as insistent as his brother. “I’m never playing with him again. He’s mean. He yelled at me ‘cause of where my feet were. I can put my feet wherever I want to.”

I shook my head, because this scene played out at least twice a week. In an hour, the two of them were right back out there, running, sliding, arguing rules and plays. I thought it would never end.

When Ben sees friends, coaches, and teachers from his high school days they ask him if he’s still playing ball. “I’m retired,” he says and laughs. He will graduate from college in May and plans to enroll in grad school this fall. He applied to Catalina Island Camps in California for summer work and out of a thousand applicants, he was one of sixty chosen as a Camp Counselor. He’s still considering the offer, has to talk it over with his boss at Triple C Camp here in town.

The sky was so blue this morning, baseball season blue, and memories of hits and pitches, celebrations and defeats played themselves out in my head. I happened to look down and a round object caught my eye. It was the remnants of a baseball. The cover was gone and the ball of wound strings underneath was the only thing left. I remembered Ben’s coach telling him one time he’d hit the ball so hard he’d knocked the cover off of it.

Coach Beale was right. The boy’s hit the cover off the ball.

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2 Responses to “March 13, 2011”

  1. Virginia Phillips-Smith Says:

    Nice, Margaret. They grow up too fast, or time goes too fast.

    Whatever, I’m getting behind.

    • train-whistle Says:

      Thanks Jen. I know, just seems like he was born. Heck, it feels like I was just turning twelve and enjoying my birthday night out with you and Pat in Nags Head. One of my favorite birthday memories. 🙂

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