Playing baseball with your sons on an early spring evening is one of the great underrated pleasures of life. One such evening I was standing on the margin of the field watching my sons warm up for a game and making friendly conversation with one of the other dads. I asked him the usual polite questions about his work and his family.
He told me he had two sons.
“Are they out there,” I said, nodding toward the field. “O, no. They are grown. I’m a “Big Brother. I’m here watching my little brother.”
“Do your sons live nearby?” I asked.
“No they are both in the Chicago area.”
“Really. What kind of work do they do?”
There was a long, uncomfortable pause and then he said, “O, really I don’t know. I haven’t seen them for years. I was divorced from their mother years ago. She’s turned them against me. They really aren’t interested in keeping in touch. I’m not sure what they do.”
We stood silently looking out on the field choking back the sadness of it. In a distant city he has sons and perhaps grandsons and granddaughters. They don’t know him and he doesn’t know them, and on a perfect spring evening he doesn’t even know what they are doing. They don’t know what he is doing. He volunteers to be a significant other in the life of a child who has been sucked into the vortex of fatherless America.
How sweet to be alive when the world is alive with spring. How sweet to watch the sun go down on the baseball field, munching a hot dog, smelling the popcorn, knowing that in a few hours you will tuck your sons into bed in the next room. You will lie in bed with your wife, her face on your chest going to sleep with the beat of your heart.
And in the darkness you listen to her breathe and you breathe a prayer of thanks that comes from deep within your soul for all the family still gathered under one roof.