Tuesday, February 16, 2010
MOM: A Slice of America's History
Some years ago, I took my mom to the movies and I was entertained by a wonderful story that wasn't delivered through the movie projector. Nonchalantly, she turned to me at the end of the movie, "You know, I tried out to play when I was young."
Fascinated, I encouraged her to share this unknown chapter of her life.
Growing up in a large family, my mom was very active. She played baseball with her brothers, cousins and sisters to pass the time. Pitching and hitting proved to be something my mom enjoyed and excelled in. When the scouts for the all girls' baseball team came around, my mom and her best friend tried out.
I can just imagine how excited my mom and Dorothy were to prove their talents to the scouts. At this point my mom and her friend had grown up in the country and their whole lives were spent very close to home. My mom's competitive nature was an asset. At the end of the try-outs, Mom had made the cut, but not her friend. Friendship loyalty was the deciding factor when Mom turned down the offer; if her friend couldn't go, then she'd stay behind.
Mom stayed best friends with Dorothy through many decades. I wonder how different her life would have been if she would have seen the world with Dorothy, while playing a sport she adored. Obviously, I wouldn't be here, probably, as I doubt that she would have married my father if she had seen the world a bit more.
My mom's story stayed silent within me, until I was walking with her and the rehab nurse after her difficult heart surgery. Mom looked so weak and frail, with that "grabber" belt around her waist, paper-thin skin stretched across her knuckles as she gripped the walker and her thin white hair. I could see the way the young nurse looked at my mom and she didn't know the warrior that was deep inside my mom. Out came the story of trying out and making the baseball team. My mom walked a little taller, smiled a little brighter and her blue eyes sparkled with the memories of that dusty summer day when she was strong and young. I was able to change the nurse's perception of Mom, with just that simple story. Hope surfaced and surrounded us in that hall and Mom began to remember the buried inner strength she needed for her recovery.
Every day, I would call on that warrior spirit within her and not let her quit. She never gave up on me and I knew that I wouldn't let her quit, either. Her strength was regained and her spirit became hopeful and determined. We had better times ahead and I know that having that story helped in so many ways.
Whenever I see "A League of Their Own" I remember that my mom was good enough to make the team, but there was another plan for her life.