This post was originally published on April 4, 2012. In celebration of Opening Day at Wrigley Field for the 2013 season, I'm republishing the post in its entirety. (Note: Two minor changes were made to reflect that at the time of publication, it was Opening Day, not the eve of such.)
If you are from Chicago and are on the proper side of the crosstown rivalry, you know that today is a very special day.
It’s a day when hope springs eternal and anything is possible. It’s a day to forget about past disappointments and to believe in the power of faith. And because it’s April in Chicago, it’s a day to break out the winter parka along with the well-worn Cubs cap.
It’s Opening Day at Wrigley Field.
I have Cubs on the brain. More accurately, I have Cubs fans on the brain. I am one of them, but right now I’m looking in from the outside, admiring the way we continue to show up, year after year after year.
My brother Dan and me at the Crosstown Classic in 2010.
This infinite steadfastness reminds me of the unwavering dedication of caregivers. In fact, when I started making a list of the qualities of Cubs fans, I noticed a striking resemblance to caregiver attributes.
This led me to the conclusion that Cubs fans make great caregivers. I have not scientifically tested this theory, but I validated it nonetheless when I mentioned it to my dad – the greatest Cubs fan I know.
His response was proof unmatched. “Of course! Empathy, compassion, knowing the meaning of suffering…it’s all there.”
So to celebrate Opening Day and in honor of Dad, all Cubs fans, and the millions of caregivers who bear these qualities, I offer seven reasons why Cubs fans make great caregivers.
Selflessness. When I started this blog, I wrote that one of the things I admired about caregivers is that they are largely selfless, putting others before themselves for the greater good. Cubs fans are the same. This is related to the empathy and compassion my dad noted. Cubs fans make emotional, physical, and financial sacrifices every year to support their team, just as caregivers sacrifice elements of their well-being in order to care for their loved ones.
Humility. As my dad explained, Cubs fans know the meaning of suffering – not just acute suffering, like a quick punch in the gut – but the long, protracted kind of suffering that changes you forever. Caregivers are the same. And just like Cubs fans, caregivers would never consider giving up that kind of suffering, because it’s more than worth it when the greater good is at stake.
Finding joy and humor. This is essential to being a Cubs fan and a caregiver. Cubs fans rejoice in something as simple as Soriano actually catching a fly ball and can only laugh when Marmol loads the bases but still completes the save. Likewise, caregivers find simple joys in the ways they make connections with their loved ones. When a benign mishap occurs or there is a misunderstanding due to dementia, caregivers can lovingly laugh at these events as a way of coping.
Resolve. Cubs fans don’t give up – ever. Neither do caregivers. This is related to patience, a quality rapidly dwindling in our society. Perhaps Cubs fans and caregivers have an important lesson to teach those who are fickle in the face of difficulty.
Resourcefulness. Cubs fans find countless ways to show their pride and to try to make things better. Where else can you find six guys hiking 1900 miles to Wrigley Field with a goat in tow to try and break the curse? Now that’s creativity. I have seen caregivers display equal levels of resourcefulness when figuring out how to persuade their loved one to go to the doctor or keep the person safe when they are at risk of wandering.
Faith. Whether secular, religious, or something that defies a label, Cubs fans undeniably have faith. It’s an unwavering belief that yes, it can happen. And if it doesn’t – well, there’s always next year. I have seen the same fervent hope and faith in the eyes and hearts of caregivers all across the country.
Sharing a common bond. Cubs fans would not survive without each other and neither would caregivers. It can feel lonely at times, but the truth is that both Cubs fans and caregivers are members of very special groups with which common bonds are shared. When two Cubs fans meet, an unspoken understanding passes between them. And so it is with caregivers. It’s something to hold onto during the darkest moments, and something to relish amidst the good times.
I rest my case. Cubs fans make great caregivers. And what if you really are both? Well, then a golden spot in the celestial Wrigley Field bleachers is surely waiting for you.