Never Too Dark to Play Catch

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic


This is the only strong memory i have of my grandpa before he got sick and passed away. Love you grandpa Tom, hope heaven has tennis courts.

Submitted: May 26, 2018

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Submitted: May 26, 2018

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“What is… Casa Blanca?” said the man, “Ahh sorry, it was actually Citizen Cane. Alright Ronda you have command of the board.”

I’ve always thought Alex Tribec was a dick, ever since I was little. I think it’s just the way that he gives you the correct answer, and says it like he knew it and wasn’t just reading it off a card.

Every Tuesday night was the same back then. My family would arrive at my grandmas for dinner at 6:00; eat at 6:30, then Jeopardy at 7:00. I don’t remember how old I was, but I was young and was tired of that same old routine. I walked across the plush, white carpet over to my father. He sat there repeatedly yelling the answer at the TV, as if they would hear him had said it loud enough. As sweet and innocently as possible I asked, “Hey Pop?” He loved when I called him that. “Can we go play catch? I’m bored.”  I looked at him with those puppy dog eyes that kids get when they want something.

“No. Jeopardy is on and it’s dark, if you’re bored go draw me a picture or something.” Like Tribec my dad has his moments. I circled around the room, asking both of my uncles that were also there the same question, only to get the same answer.

Boredom had almost defeated me but I was forgetting my best chance of all, the one person that I could rely on for a definite yes. I hurried out of the living room and into the kitchen.

Upon entering I witnessed my younger cousin sitting on the counter in his PJ’s. He was supposed to be in bed, but instead he was licking his chubby fingers and shoving them deep into the sugar dish. He pulled them out with a delighted look on his face and sucked them clean, only to then go back for more. It was repulsive. When he saw me he quickly set it down and acted as if nothing happened, but I disregarded it. I had more important things on my schedule.

Walking through an arched doorway, the kitchen opened into the den and there he was. After dinner, while everyone piled into the living room for Jeopardy, my grandfather would clean up then escape to the den to read in his armchair. The chair resided under the only light in the room, a lamp that’s shade gave off a comfortable glow. I will always remember the way he sat, slouched, his feet crossed resting upon the ottoman. You knew when he was really into his book if he held it with one hand, and perched the other on the armrest, gently pinching at the skin over his temple.

“Hey Grandpaaaa?” I never had to use nicknames or convincing looks to butter him up. He was always the biggest pushover with stuff like this. The man would play a full game of Monopoly with me and actually agree to a rematch if I lost, which for some reason, hardly ever happened.

“What’s up bud?” He scooped me up and put me on his lap.

“Can we go play catch?” I asked. He leaned forward and looked out the window.

“It’s pretty dark out there, we might hurt ourselves.” That was his kind way of trying to convince me to change my mind.

“We’ll be fine I think.”

“Okay” he said, like always. We got up and walked to the garage, put on our gloves, and I undid the latch on the garage door. He lifted the door and stepped out into the crisp, fall night. He took a deep breath in his nose and out his mouth. With a smile, he looked down at me and said, “Ya know, I think tonight is a perfect night to play catch.” I smiled and he walked across the front yard.

He kept throwing me the ball low and slow, making sure I would catch it every time. I gained a bit of confidence in the dark, and threw it back. A hard line drive straight to his glove.

“Nice throw!” he called out.

 “Give me a high pop fly!” I yelled. He leaned back and launched the tattered old baseball high into the night sky.

 I followed it for a second, but only for a second.

I looked at the sky. The stars were starting to come out and the moon was full. I dropped my glove slightly so I could see the sky better, and briefly forgot why I had been looking up in the first place.

The next thing I knew I was sitting on my butt, seeing even more stars now that the ball had returned and landed directly on my face.

As I sat there helplessly, hot tears began to stream down my cold cheeks. I was lifted into the air, as a throbbing lump began to form in the center of my forehead. My grandfather carried me inside and laid me down on the ottoman, then walked to the kitchen. He returned with a bag of frozen peas, propped up my head and put it on his lap, then pressed the bag onto my face.

He chuckled softly and said, “Next time, we’ll play before dinner.”

It’s odd, the things you remember about a person. I remember the way his voice sounded that night, how it felt when he picked me up and put me on his lap, and what it was like to watch him throw the ball back to me.

But I hardly remember the more recent years.

They mostly blur together, images of him sitting limply in his chair, having to ring a bell so my grandmother would come to help him stand and walk to the bathroom. Or when I would watch him, as he struggled to force out loud, incomprehensible grumbles, in a desperate attempt to say hi back to me when I entered the room.

 His body was deteriorating, but his mind was not.

There was still life behind his eyes. He looked through them like a sick kid, looking through windows on a snow day. Watching his friends and family talk and enjoy each other’s company, while he sat unable to participate, trapped within his own body.

He was gone before I grew up, so you could say I don’t truly remember whom my grandfather was.

But I will always remember that night, the night it wasn’t too dark to play catch.


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