Sunday, October 4, 2015

Let the Sun In

There Miguel and I sat, just to the right of home plate, in the View Reserved section of AT&T Park on a glorious Indian summer day, watching the Giants' tribute to the retiring Jeremy Affeldt on the final day of the 2015 regular season. Affeldt spoke last, after tributes from the president of the Giants, and the manager, and one of Affeldt's best friends on the team, pitcher Matt Cain, and Affeldt said, "Parents, make sure to let your children know you are proud of them."

Then he shared the story of how when he was 12 years old and sitting with his father in Oakland Coliseum, where the A's and Raiders play, he turned to him and said, "Dad, some day I'm going to pitch in this stadium."

And his father said, "Son, go for it."

Tears were welling in my eyes at this point.

Affeldt continued. Ten years later he was walking through the centerfield gates onto the field and he called his father. "Dad," he said, "remember when we sat at Oakland Coliseum and I told you I was going to play here someday and you said that I should go for it? Well, I'm here dad."

The phone suddenly disconnected. Affeldt dialed back and his mother answered. "What happened to dad?" She said, "He dropped the phone because he was crying."

I reached over as Affeldt finished his story and rub-patted Miguel on the back. "I am proud of you, Miguel." I am hard on him at times as he has begun the process of applying to colleges, but I like the young man he has become.

I felt exactly how Affeldt was feeling as the tributes washed over him in view of his wife, their three sons, his parents, sister, and in-laws: blessed.

Later in the day, Maya and I went to clean up Verna and her mother's gravesite in honor of Verna's birthday tomorrow. As we pulled into the parking lot, Maya said, "It's really sad when someone young dies, like Alex," she nodded in the direction of the grave bearing his name in huge letters stuck into the ground.

"How did he die?" she asked.

I hesitated because I knew the answer and wasn't sure I should share it. "He killed himself," I said softly.



"I'd never do that," she said. "There are so many places I haven't seen yet."

At that moment I felt blessed again, by Miguel and Maya, the people they are and will become, and by the love that Verna and I shared to create them.

Maya and I then ambled to the grave marker and cleared away the dirt and strands of grass, poured out the water from the plastic flower holders, replaced the worn flowers with two plastic bouquets of roses, straightened up the remaining talismans, and, following Jewish tradition, I then found two stones and placed them on the edge of the grave, to show I was there.

We said happy birthday to Verna and I said, "It's still sad Mommy is not with us."

Maya didn't say anything. I was also thinking how fortunate I am to have Miguel and Maya and how proud Verna would be. Her blessings are my blessings.

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