Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In Memoriam


I was very saddened - heartbroken - to find out that the wife of a very good blog buddy, Skip O'Brien, passed away today. Sharon (Grandma Skip, as she was known on his blog) passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer.


 Skip & Sharon in the Public Gardens in Boston - Make Way for Ducklings statues

My only physical meeting with these two lovely and loving people came on a softball diamond in Boston. When you consider that they lived in the San Francisco area, it becomes an odd story that speaks for their willingness to go out of their way to give someone a nice little thrill.

It was 2012. My Sunday fast-pitch team, the Bombers, were in the playoffs. We were involved in the semi-final series against our arch rivals, the Titans. You have to understand my mindset when I get on a softball diamond. I'm focused on the game. Whatever other people are around will register in my mind, but generally in an off-hand way only. Near the end of the first game, I noticed a few people in the little stands behind home plate. I thought to myself that it was nice some folks who enjoyed softball had come out to see our games that day, but I didn't think I recognized any of them.

Between games, I looked at the people again. I thought I had seen Big Jay Atton chatting up two of them and I wondered if they might be related to the Attons in some way. As I looked at this man and woman sitting there, they both gave me big smiles. I smiled back. I turned away, but then something finally clicked inside my pea brain and I turned back to look again. They must have seen the light dawning on marblehead and the semi-confused look on my mug. They both laughed, most especially the man with the big mustache. Then it all came together. I was looking at folks known, on Skip's blog, as Uncle Skip and Grandma Skip.

 The best fans we had in 2012

See, I knew they were going to be in Boston on a vacation trip, but our plans to meet up had been bollixed by some extreme car trouble I had that week. Undaunted, and knowing I was playing ball that Sunday morning, they made the trip from their hotel in downtown Boston - via two trains and two buses, I believe, and then a rather healthy walk - to Smith Field in Brighton where the games were. And then they just sat there patiently, watching the games and not bothering my game face, until I recognized them.

It is definitely the farthest anyone has traveled to see my sorry ass play ball. I was extremely touched by the trouble they went to do this nice thing.

After the games were over - we had our asses handed to us that day, I'm sorry to say; I would have loved some better examples of our play for some people who came so far to see us - Sharon was kind enough to take some shots of the team and of me with a good friend.


 I'm disgustingly drenched in sweat here, but Skip insisted I put my arm around his shoulders.


Bombers, 2012 (photo by Sharon O'Brien)

I gave them a ride back to their hotel after the games, but since I was so sweaty and nasty I declined an invite for lunch. What I wouldn't give for an hour over a nice meal with her now...

God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.

Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my friend, Sharon, and her loving husband, Skip.

In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may she rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.
 
 Amen.