Do you remember our old house like I do? I must say my favorite places were always the upstairs and downstairs–the places that were the most secluded. I guess that’s the introvert in me coming out.
What about the middle, though? That’s where your room was, that’s where the kitchen was, and that’s where Rachel’s old room was.
It’s fitting that you lived right in the middle of our home because you were/are the center of our lives. Why didn’t I spend more time there?
I guess for a while I spent more and more of my time elsewhere. I guess I got a little annoyed with you guys, but who doesn’t at one point? You went from being idolized like superheros to basically being thrown into the scrap heap of my mind. Did you deserve that? Absolutely not.
I got annoyed because I was growing up. And as I grew up I developed a sarcasm that had no rival. I used that to hurt you guys. Boy, was I stupid.
It’s ironic that I miss you now more than ever–now that I’m 900 miles away. I used to live just a few feet away from you.
Being a parent isn’t easy. As Darnell says, “it’s a full time job.” I’ve realized parenting means having some tough love. It means pushing your child to be the best they can be in the classroom, athletics, and in life.
It means going the extra mile. It means putting in overtime, being there for our events, and talking to us. You guys went the extra mile.
But there’s something ironic about being a parent. You spend all that time raising us, helping us, and loving us and then we leave you when we’re grown.
That hurts, I know.
I want to honor you two. I want to use the lessons you taught me to make a positive impact on the world and those around me. I want to show you that your reach is larger than you thought.
You both know I report on baseball games. When I’m sitting there in the stands, watching, I notice so much more than what’s happening on the field. I notice the parents, the children running around, and the coaches.
I notice the mother taking pictures of her son behind the backstop. I notice the father that’s yelling something in spanish to his son while he’s up at bat. I notice the younger siblings sitting in attendance.
At the end of the game I get to interview those who I deem are the standouts. Sometimes the kids could care less about any of the questions I give them. Sometimes they just kind of mumble out a one or two word answer while looking everywhere else but into my eyes.
Sometimes it’s nervousness, which is fine, but all to often it’s arrogance.
Then I get those kids who are absolutely beaming. They call me sir, they go into extreme detail, and they far too often cite the rest of their team and coaches as the reason for their success.
One time I interviewed a kid who laid down a perfect bunt to drive in the winning run. I could tell he wasn’t Johnny big-shot, and that he wasn’t going to make the starting lineup of any major league team anytime soon.
But as I interviewed him it became a pleasure because he gave me so many words to work with and he gave me a lot of respect as well.
I remember these kids the most.
And, almost poetically, the two people I could see standing behind him, beaming just as much as he was, was his mom and his dad.
I make sure to give these kids a few extra sentences in my write-up every single time.
Behind every great, respectful, pleasant kid is a pair of parents who worked hard to make them that way.
In a world where nice guys finish last, I try to make my stories revolve around them as much as I possibly can.
If only they knew how much they’d miss these times with their parents. Unfortunately it’s something they won’t understand until they leave.
Distance breeds nostalgia.
Proximity breeds resentment.
Why is it like that?
Why can’t proximity breed something else? I just want you two to know that proximity doesn’t breed that for me anymore. Now I’m just happy.
It’s a rough world out there, and it takes a special mixture of protection, love, exposure, and vigilance to make sure children don’t see it as a dark place. To get them to see the world with hope is ultimately one of the many end goals.
And honestly that’s the best gift you’ve ever given me.
I know this world sucks. I know there’s more horror going on than I could possibly imagine, but I have hope.
I could list all the traits you’ve passed on to me (the list would start with dashing good-looks), but (just joking) that would be too long and boring.
Instead I’ll leave you with a story I’ll never forget.
I remember playing a baseball game when I was younger and both of you were in attendance. A crazy-good left-handed pitcher came up and he was throwing the high heat. Seriously, unlike the other subject of my story above, this guy could’ve made the starting rotation of the Yankees right then as far as I was concerned.
I was scared, honestly.
Something in you two must’ve seen that, and I remember Mom coming over to give me some words of wisdom.
She told me that that was my plate out there, meaning I wasn’t going to back down from this guy. He wasn’t in control of this meeting–I WAS.
She fired me up, and I went out there a lot less scared than I was.
I ended up striking out, but there was a moment when the perfect pitch came down the outside of the plate, and I smacked it deep down the left field line.
I was so ahead of it that it went foul, but as far as I can tell that ball hasn’t hit the ground yet. If it was fair it would’ve been a home run.
I came out of our showdown a little upset, but Dad never focused on me striking out, he focused on that foul ball. He focused on how I almost had him.
Mom taught me one amazing mindset that day. In anything that you do, own it. YOU’RE in control. Don’t back down from anybody. Show up to life with gritted teeth, a scowl, and a big bat on your shoulder not afraid to swing it.
Dad taught me that there’s always a positive in every failure. You could’ve very easily focused on the fact that I struck out, but you never did that.
This is why I see the world with hope.
Thank you for that.