I always cry at weddings and Cubs games. Ok, maybe not all weddings and Cubs games, but I can say with confidence that the majority of blessed unions and games at Wrigley bring tears to my eyes. If you think about it, staying married and being a lifelong Cub fan are really quite similar.
When two people make the marriage commitment, they bring with them the hopes and dreams of many who came before them, family and friends, all rooting for a win. Statistically over 50% of marriages fail, yet people come together in with dedication and optimism, promising to endure the ups and downs of life together until their dying day. The metaphorical World Series win in the game of married life is to stay together, till death do you part, and nobody plays the game to lose. Nobody goes in thinking that they will just quit if the game gets too difficult. We all want to win and rely on hope and faith when taking our vows.
OYE those vows! They unleash the floodgates of emotion for me. I love watching a couple gazing into each other’s eyes while they hold each other’s trembling hands and recite their promises to each other in front of an adoring crowd of witnesses. And there’s something bigger there too. Whether it’s God or the larger sacrament of marriage that looms throughout the ceremony, everyone knows that there is something MORE than just two people making promises. Hope springs eternal at weddings, much like the ivy that covers the walls at Wrigley field. Indulge me if you will in a quick photo …..
I believe God is rooting for all of us, but I'm now a very big fan of the sign guy here at Plymouth Church in Plainfield. But I was taking about the ivy at Wrigley Field, wasn't I?
The ivy at Wrigley, it’s everywhere. It was planted in 1937 by Cubs general manager Bill Veeck and is able to endure the harsh Chicago winters because it is a combination of Boston ivy and Japanese Bittersweet. The sight of the ivy walls brings tears to my eyes. It’s a powerful symbol of strength and hope.
Combining two types of ivy to make it stronger? Combing two people in a relationship to make each other stronger through marriage? COME ON, PEOPLE, ARE YOU NOT CHOKING ON THE AWESOME OF THIS? Please tell me you love it the way I do! I love the fact that this enduring combination of ivy leafs out as the baseball season progresses, growing with the hopes of Cubs fans everywhere that maybe, just MAYBE, our beloved Cubbies will grow together as a team for a winning season. But the ivy isn’t the only thing that makes me tingle at Wrigley. History and hope for the Cubs and marriage goes back a long way in my family.
My paternal grandmother attended ladies day on Fridays in the 1930’s and 1940’s. I used to love to hear her tell stories about how she and her friends “got gussied all up in our best with hats and gloves,” and how even though she “wouldn’t marry a Catholic if he was dripping in diamonds,” she ended up marrying one. The only reason she agreed to date him in the first place was because he was a fellow Cub fan. You see now how I can make the argument that being married and being a Cub fan are so similar, right?
My grandparents brought me to my first Cubs game and many more during the years they lived in the city. I learned the history of the ivy and how to keep score as I shoveled as many fistfuls of peanuts and popcorn and hotdogs into my smiling face. When my grandpa grew to sick to see the games live and my grandma slowly went blind, they listened to the Cubs games together on the radio, holding out hope for not only a Cubs win, but for another day to enjoy being their own team. Nobody thought the marriage of a laid back Irish Catholic and a high strung English Protestant would last, but when death parted them, they had been happily married, loyal Cubs fans for over 50 years.
I was married on July 23rd, 1994. The Cubs lost to the Reds that day, but almost 18 years later, I am still married to the guy I put my faith in a few decades ago when I agreed to marry him. Like the Cubs, we have had some really rough seasons where we just wanted to quit, but we held out hope that if we just changed our game, practiced harder and worked together, we would reach our metaphorical World Series win which has always been to STAY TOGETHER!
And I’m sure the only reason we are still together today is because we both knew that our marriage was about something greater than the two of us. History, tradition, hope, and faith are guiding us. We were raised by lifelong Cubs fans that married for love and rooted for each other and the Cubs until death parted them after 40 years together. My husband and I stood up in my brother’s wedding this past Sunday. He smiled and winked at me while I cried during the vows. That day, the Cubs lost to the Pirates. In the 6th inning, the Cubbies got their cans whooped! Not an inning to be proud of, yet they rallied in the 8th and 9th, bringing hope and faith bubbling back to the surface of their fans. My husband and I are in the midst of a great inning, finally and my brother has found himself a winning team with his new wife and three amazing step-kids.
And on Monday, the Cubs beat the Padres 11-7. See? Hope!
If you asked me whether or not my husband and I will win the marriage World Series, I wouldn't be able give you a definitive answer. I can’t tell you if me and the big guy will make it for the long haul, just as I cannot predict a winning season for the Cubs. All I can tell you is that I’m going to keep playing the game, hoping and rooting for ALL of us and I will never lose faith.
If you love a Cubs fan, this is the book for them. If you are a fan as well, don't fight over who gets first dibs, read it together. Hope springs eternal, motherfuckers (this is Moms who drink and swear so you had to know THAT was coming, right?) I know the guy that wrote this. Talk about hopeful…..
Jimmy Greenfield, I have a lot of faith in you. Thanks for this incredible collection of memories. I think this is our year, don't you? But if not, there's always next year. Or the year after. GO CUBS!
And last but not least, I HAD to share this last photo with you. I don’t know these people OR the photographer, yet when looking for an image of the ivy that moved me and fit with my piece, I came across this and knew that I was meant to write this today. Click on the link below to see the Cub themed celebration of hope for Katie and Ray. I'm rooting for these guys with the enthusiasm and hope I have for my beloved Cubbies. I think August Strinburg said it best, "It's terribly hard to be married, harder than anything else. I think you have to be an angel."
And a Cub fan.