Our relationship has changed over the years. I don’t see him as much as I should and I’m not quite sure what to talk about when I’m with him. There are the awkward pauses after the pointless questions I ask to fill the white space searching for something meaningful to say.
We had finished dinner and he had made his way back to his chair, shuffling behind his “buggy”. He sat in his recliner, my grandmother’s sitting empty next to his, and turned on the game. Loud. Now conversation would be next to impossible. It is almost as if he is saying, “I’m done now. You can go.” Perhaps he wants to communicate with me just as I do with him, but he doesn’t know what to say either. There is a wall between us and neither one of us knows how to get through.
Jack Buck’s voice fills the room. Matt Carpenter is up to bat. Two men are on base. Score is tied.
This is a familiar scene to me now. Jack Buck “lives” in our house. Cardinal players are more familiar to my sons than family members. My Baker boys live and breathe baseball. I am slowly learning to love the game. It has taken almost 20 years.
Crack. The ball is flying. Farther. Farther. Farther. Home run!
As Matt runs the bases, Grandpa smiles. He says, “I should be getting a phone call now.” His neighbor, whose wife has Alzheimer’s, calls whenever the Cardinals hit a home run. It’s how they watch the game together.
The phone rings. They talk, replaying the hit and celebrating the new score of 4 to 1. Take that Rockies!
He hangs up the phone and says, “The other night, when Yadi got his homerun, we talked for awhile.”
My heart leaps. I saw that game. I pick up the sledgehammer I have just found.
“That hit WAS amazing! Bases loaded, full count, and he sails it out! It was awesome! And it wasn’t a double play like it is most of the time,” I say in a rush.
Grandpa turns away from the game. He looks at me. His eyes are no longer flat, but sparkling again. He smiles. There is a hole in the wall, and we find each other again.