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Baseball and Birthdays

Last night, I got to go to a Kalamazoo Kings baseball game, my first ever. They belong to a non-major league affiliate but the teams are young all play great ball. There were few attending at Homer Stryker Field, but since I had my BF Laurel and two of my grandkids along for the ride, it was perfect. The weather was warm, and not muggy, a few clouds in the sky, and some of the best ballpark food around...grilled Koegel hotdogs, ice cold Coke, and chips. What a deal!

Cam and Macey (the grandkids) were not restricted to sitting in their seats the whole time; we sat near the ramp access which has it's own balcony or deck for wheelchairs if needed. They brought their baseball gloves on the hopes of catching a stay ball and since we were on the end of the first base line, it was a possibility. Many other kids do the same, so the prospects of actually getting a ball are reduced by the amount of kids present. I told them not to hold their breath, to just enjoy the game.

And so the game starts, almost the end of the first inning, and Cam needs a "break". On his way down the ramp, we hear the bat crack, a loud "Ohhhh" from the crowd, and the ball comes our way and down over our right shoulders. And just as suddenly, Cam comes running back up the ramp, arm extended, ball in hand, with the biggest grin you have ever seen. To say he is excited is evident to all around him. He gives me the ball, and runs back down to his initial destination. Ball one.

As he returns, Macey whispers that she also needs to take a  walk, so, we get up, Laurel manning the seats, and I walk her down to the "Necessary" rooms.  She uses the facilities, and I make a cell phone call. "You're not going to be able to live with Cameron, he caught the first foul ball," I tell his mom and dads answering machine.  As we are walking back, we hear the familar sound of the crack of the bat, the "Ohhhh" from the crowd, and a cheer and clapping. We near the ramp, only to have Cam once again meet us, glove extended with another ball. Two! I can't help but smile and laugh out loud, "No way! All right! Gimme 5!" and as he gives the ball to his sister (who brought her dads glove to give her that extra "edge") "Great Cameron, now you both have one, good job". I am very proud of him for sharing. The kids are 3 years apart by the numbers, but not when it comes to any competition.

I couldn't have planned it this well if I had wanted to. Two innings in, two foul balls, and we can sit and enjoy the game. The kids go and sit in the deck area in front of us. The crowd is sparse, so this is not a problem. Grandma and Laurel can watch the game and the kids at the same time, Life is good, almost as good as the game. A few good hits, all caught, and the game is still 0-0 in the 4th inning. Macey comes to me with the familar request. I glance at Laurel, and ask, "Wanta go?" and so we make it a threesome, with Cam in charge of our seats and the souvenir balls. We go down, get something to eat on the way back, Laurel has her cigarette, and we chat about the game, and anything else we think of . Time to go back. We return to our seats, the kids take up foul ball patrol on the deck, and the game begins anew. 

The Kings get some hits that actually put numbers on the board, and finally their opponents do also. Many more foul balls are lobbed about, but none in our direct area. And then, there is one...Cam runs down the ramp before I can yell to stop, and he and several other kids rush to the side of the bleachers. There is a scramble, no blood, and ....a third ball gets added to the collection! "All right, that's enough, that one is for Liam, and let someone else have a chance," I chastise with a smile. Cam smiles, and renews his spot on the deck. Macey pouts as she hasn't gotten a chance. Liam is their 18 month old brother who will won't understand the excitement of catching the ball, but knows how to throw it. The rest of the game has many more hits, even a few homeruns, and foul balls for others to enjoy. Game ends in eight and a half innings, 9-3, Kings win.  The kids get their balls autographed after the game with all the others who "want it in writting". We go home, the kids crash, and all is well with my corner of the world. Like I said, I couldn't have planned it better.

Now for the birthday part. Today is my 53rd birthday. Last night was a present to myself. Since November 1998, I have taken one day at a time, and count each birthday as a milestone to be celebrated. I was diagnosed with cancer in that year and fought it for 6 months. I went back to work, still had complications for several months, and ultimately lost my job a year and a half later.  I went through a "retraining" program, and started my life over again. It has not been easy. Rebirth never is. But I have learned to appreciate and celebrate each day and milestone like it may be my last, and God willing, I will have many more to follow. And if not, I had the best time I could remember today, or at least in the recent past. And I tell people it's my birthday, not for the accolades it brings, but to have my friends celebrate with me. So celebrate your life today and everyday that God has given you and make it the best day ever.  Do for others and yourself, and before the end of the day, try and catch a foul ball.   

I love you all, even though I don't know all of you. Kevin, thanks for bringing us all together. What a great gift!      Happy Birthday to Me!      


2009 Wakarusa Maple Syrup now over

My oldest son (Bob) and his family met my youngest son and his family in Elkhart for this yearly event. (I couldn't go because of work) Even though they got down there early, it was very crowded and before they left, evenmoreso. First is always the pancake breakfast at the new high school, followed by a trip around to all the arts and crafts stops. Bob said there were many Amish and Mennonite families there with many items to sell; blankets, baked goods, honey, and noodles to name a few. Then a walk back downtown to the general store to get jelly beans and other things that interest us. This years favorite was the "Jumbo Red Licorice Jelly Beans". For those who do not know, the general store sells jumbo sized jelly beans---as big as your thumb---depending on the size of your thumb! They also have other types of "old fashioned" penny candies available, and "stuff" always got to look at the "stuff".

After a leisurely stop in the downtown stores, back to get lunch at Nelsons GoldenGlow Chicken--for later--and back to the car. When the kids got back to the car, they realized that Macey my middle granddaughter was not with them. Panic set in, and everyone began to retrace their steps back to as far back as needed until they found her. Thankfully, she was still at Nelsons, waiting on them. She had been talking to some other kids and was generally distracted, not realizing that everyone else had gone until just before they got back to finding her! Thank God for Guardian Angels! Macey said she wasn't lost, she knew where she was. Typical eight year old. This could have been so much worse, but for the Grace of God, Macey remembered not to go off looking for family, and not to go with strangers, just to stay put. She was praised for this, but also reminded to watch for Mom and Dad moving. There were three adults and six kids, which sounds easy enough to keep track of, but not in a crowd of several thousand people.

And so all made it home safely, I got some Amish sausage for later, and listened to all tell "their side of the story", which is what I sometimes do best.  Maybe next year I can go and spend my Michigan bucks in Indiana.

Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival

This wonderful event is this Saturday in Wakarusa, IN, off State Road 19. My kids go every year for the pancakes, syrup and the homemade Amish breakfast sausage (which is also for sale). The syrup is always for sale in various size containers.  Add the giant Jelly Beans at the general store and Nelson's Golden-Glow Chicken, and you've got yourself a great day out! And the weather is supposed to be good! See ya there!

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