With the celebrations this week commemorating the Chicago White Sox 2005 World Series championship, I am reminded of one of the nicest things my son ever did for me. I write about it in this Oct. 31, 2005 Chicago Tribune column:
So many moving stories have been told by sons in the last few weeks about fathers and the fulfillment of their dream to finally see the White Sox in a World Series just once in a lifetime.
Now, I'd like to change the formula and write about one of those fathers' sons. From a father's perspective.
My son, Don, for years patiently listened to my sad stories about the White Sox. Why my brother Bill and I, growing up near Devon and Western Avenues, gave up on the Chicago Cubs and became Sox fans in 1950. About the great teams of the '50s and the joyous end in 1959 of a 40-year World Series drought. About how I missed perhaps my only chance in my life to go to a Sox World Series because I was away at college. That I was reduced to having to share the experience with dozens of guys--some of them Sox haters--jammed into the dorm's TV room. The humiliation of that loss, the next 40-year wait, blah, blah.
Maybe in pity for the old man, Don became a north-of-Madison Street Sox fan, even buying season tickets. Not until last week did I learn that he bought them so that if, by some wild chance, the Sox ended up in the Series, we could get tickets together. But, two years ago, he moved away to Alexandria, Va., and I thought our dream of watching a Sox Series together had died.
Until he announced that he was coming home to watch the first two Series games with me, if only on television. We both had tried unsuccessfully to get tickets online and by phone during that 18-minute frenzy, so TV it would be. I was deeply touched by his willingness to fly all that way to create a lifetime memory. Suddenly, watching the games on TV sounded good. I made sure we had enough popcorn.
Be still, my heart
"Dad, we're going to the game." What? I didn't understand what he was saying that Saturday morning. What game? "Dad, I'm taking you to the game tonight." He had purchased tickets from a broker and flew all this way, always intending to treat me to the World Series. Having checked out brokers' prices myself, I knew what kind of money he laid out for two tickets. He refused to let me pay for any of it. Miraculously, everyone had kept the secret, leaving me completely surprised.
Hail greets us as we park the car two hours before game time. Two upper-deck seats in right field, one row from the top, with a partially obstructed view. It's perfect. The electrifying crowd. A flawless game. An exciting win. Even better seats, as we later move to some vacancies we spotted in the upper deck right behind the plate. Shared moments of tension, doubt, hope, anticipation, excitement, disbelief and joy. Something special had happened to us and between us. As Chicagoans have been discovering as they experience this something special, this is more than just a game.
"Dad, this is the most fun I've ever had, next to my wedding." "Don, this is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me."
It's a love thing
Now the Series is over, but it will be kept alive in Don's memory. We both know the unspoken. Someday, all he'll have of me is a memory, just as I have of my own father. Don did the extraordinary, to bless that memory. To add to our many other memories: times of uncertainty and bad health, of achievement and gladness.
Gladness comes with the gifts that my children and grandchildren bring us, my wife, Barb, and me. We never imagined how much gladness they would bring, something that we can't describe even to our own children.
For information on my award-winning historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812," visit: http://www.madness1812.com
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