The other night, Jamie and I sat in section 12, row 21, seats 9 and 10. We were at Ameriquest Field watching the Texas Rangers play the Kansas City Royals. Vendors were coming up and down the stairs. "Cold drinks! Gitch yer cold drinks!" It was a hot Texas evening and we were enjoying the game.
Did that game ever bring back memories! I thought about those years in Kansas City. Two little girls (usually one at a time) and I would sit in Kauffman Stadium, watching the Kansas City Royals. (We were living in Kansas City at the time.) Jamie was about four years old when I first took her to the ballpark. At the age of four, of course, the game was only incidental. She was there for the singing of "Take me out to the ball game" and the Polish sausage (another story) rather than the game itself. Those are wonderful memories.
That brings me to Tim Russert’s book Wisdom of Our Fathers. Russert is the long time moderator of Meet the Press. Several years ago, he wrote the story of his relationship with his dad, Big Russ and Me. As a result of that book, he received thousands of letters from people across the nation about their relationships with their own dads. All of these are written by adult children about their dads. Some of these dads are still living. Others have long been deceased. This book consists of a number of these letters.
Last night, I finished the book. I have been reading it slowly over the past month. As I finished the book, I found myself wanting to read some of these letters again. Maybe I will.
The letters are organized under chapter headings such as:
- Small moments
- Daddy’s Girl
- The Teacher
- The Character
- Mr. Mom
- Hands (and Feet)
- Being There
There are a number of other headings as well.
Some of these letters speak of warm relationships with dads. A few others reveal cold, indifferent relationships. Some letters are written by those who have close relationships with their dads. Others are written by those who long for close relationships. Some of these letters are very funny. Others are very moving. A few of these brought tears to my eyes.
I read some of these letters twice, such as the following from the "Baseball" chapter:
One night, when I was seven or eight, my dad (a former minor league pitcher for the South Phillies) took me to a ball game in Shibe Park in Philadelphia. The wooden seats had just been painted red, and they were still a bit sticky. In the fourth inning, a foul ball came into our section in the upper level along first base. This was the closest I had ever been to a real baseball. There was mass chaos as a multitude of bodies dove for the ball, which caromed off a seat before it disappeared. Because nobody emerged with it, I asked Dad what had happened. "Wow, that was close," he said.
That night, I went in to kiss him good night and to thank him for taking me to the game. When I came back, I noticed a lump in my pillow. Under it was a Major League baseball–with a streak of red paint on it. (pp. 133-134)