Sometimes, we are in the middle of history and never know it. We can be surrounded by the past, with pieces here and there, remnants of times gone by and they become something much more….something that lives a little longer. This past week, memories both that I shared and learned about came in the most simple of moments. In the most unique of settings. You see, most of my summers have been spent at a baseball field. For over 18 years, one if not all of our boys were playing baseball, and most of those years included my husband coaching as well. They started playing when they were 5 and I have one that still plays baseball now. But not all the memories that I experienced this past week were mine…instead, I got to hear about them. And, boy, did I listen.
The stories of Brown Park
One of the locations for the Nebraska State Legion Baseball tournament was held at John Stella Field in Brown Park in Omaha, Nebraska this past weekend where 8 of the best 16 high school teams in the state were going to finish out their seasons. There would be (and it is still yet to be decided) only one winner for each site. But before the first pitch was thrown on Saturday morning, many families of alumni who graduated from Omaha South High School and played at Brown Park were in attendance. The field was immaculate with wonderful volunteers and the weather could not have been more perfect. We were greeted with the color guard, our national anthem, and the retiring of a jersey worn by a man who is “Omaha South Baseball”. I believe, they call him “The Godfather.” Although I do not know Mr. Stella or everything he has done for that program, I enjoyed listening to the former players talk about what position they played, the great hits and even the plays not made when they were playing baseball. These gray-haired gentlemen laughed hard, walked a little slower than they did back then, and in their minds, I am sure they were replaying their memories of being on that very field too. It was incredible to be in the presence and a witness to all of that.
But some stories are more current…
Our team’s season ended last night and for some of our seniors, getting ready to head off to college, the game that they love to play is no longer a part of their lives. This game will only exist in their memories as they retell the great wins, feel the angst for the worst loses, and everything in between. The bonds they have created with their teammates will never be erased, no matter how much time passes. Although our son has one more year to play, I was transported back to the feeling I had over a year ago when our oldest hung up his cleats and glove for the last time after his college career ended. I knew exactly what they were feeling. Watching strong young men crumble into their parents arms instantly reminded us all that the ride was over for these players and their parents and my heart broke right along with them. It still does, even as a type this. After hugging the parents and players, and wishing them well, my husband and I headed to the parking lot and just outside the center field fence, I see one player sitting in a dark parking lot in his friend’s Jeep. As we held each other, my heart swelled with love for this young man as the tears fell onto our shoulders, staining our shirts with love and heartbreak. You see, this young man was someone I had the privilege of watching grow up and I was his first baseball coach, when our sons played t-ball together. He wore the Yankee jersey very proudly and later on, my husband coached him when he moved into playing more competitive baseball. Needless to say, our family has been a part of this young man’s baseball career from the very beginning and now to the end, when we were merely spectators. As this fun, energetic, young man heads off to college, I hope he knows that the image of him sitting there will be forever etched in my heart and that I am ever grateful for the bleacher seat as I had become merely a bystander watching history being made. Because it was a part of his story.
Do you still hear the music?
The music is in our past, full of memories, both good and bad, that replay over in stories and pictures that we share with others. The commonality we share is bigger than we think it is and we must remember to listen. We forget to pay attention to moments that we think are insignificant, but even the little ones leave their hand print on our hearts. Simple gestures tap into those feelings that otherwise might be missed. A hug never given is one never received. Words never shared never fulfill their intended journey. Be silent for a minute and just listen to the stories told by the young and the old. Some of them will sound very similar, especially on a baseball field. Some of them will inspire dreams in boys yet to play on such a field. Life is about change and as much as we would want the ride to go on forever, it too must come to an end. But never be sad that your part in it has ended…instead be humbled enough to appreciate your part in it. Your legacy has begun. It will lift you once again to that moment — and you will instantly remember — as if it was yesterday. And then the music continues and has a life that never ends. But only if you listen to it and use those notes and chords to change how you see not only your life, but life that exists around you. We all become some involved in our own lives that watching life unfold right before your eyes can change how you listen to the music every day afterwards. Don’t stop the music. And you will know it when you hear it again…because you will remember the sound it made when it first touched your heart. Thank you for such a great melody…it was an absolute honor to be able to listen to it. Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©