He’s got my vote.
He’s got my vote.
The results from the Baby Photo Contest are in, and I guess there is no real surprise about the winner.
Samantha and Brooke’s mom, Elizabeth, was the only contestant to correctly identify all 10 of the pictures (reshown and identified below).
I probably should say “Mothers Know Best” as two other mothers, Elizabeth’s sister Annie and sister-in-law Heather, correctly identified 9 out of the 10 pictures. Also, Aunt Janet got 8 out of the 10 correct.
Then came the two fathers, Brandt and his father Chuck, who between them averaged 75% correct identification, correctly identifying 15 of 20.
(Update: 5:48 PM: Upon referee’s review of the ‘father’ outcome, actually the combined score for Brandt and his father was 70% – 14/20.)
Others, Renee – 7/10, Emily G – 6/10, Ping – 6/10, Cousin Abby – 6/10, Sue – 5/10, Cousins Eil and Ryan – 5/10, and Carrie – 5/10. Ray G. said simply they were all beautiful and liked #5 the best, whoever it was. Many other readers made approving comments about the two babies but refused to commit themselves to identifying who was who.
If EACH of you who participated in the contest (those named above) will send me your T-shirt size, which picture you like the best, and your snail mail address, I will send you a T-shirt with that photo. You can substitute the one of the family (Photo #11 below) if you prefer.
Photo # 1: Samantha
Photo #2: Samantha
Photo #3: Brooke
Photo #4: Brooke
Photo #5: Brooke
Photo #6: Brooke
Photo # 7: Samantha
Photo #8: Brooke
Photo #9: Samantha
Photo #10: Brooke
Photo # 11: Family Photo
The photos below were sent to me by a friend from Sierra Leone, West Africa, following a mudslide August 14 just outside the capital of Freetown. Warning: they are not easy to take.
Hundreds of dead bodies have been recovered and burial graves are being dug. Four hundred people are known dead and perhaps another thousand have yet to be uncovered. This has only lightly been touched in the US media.
The Sierra Leone friend (he currently lives in the Washington, DC area) who sent me these photos lost his niece, her husband and her two children. At least 18 other members of this friend’s family are still missing, along with many others who had moved to the Freetown area from my friend’s village.
As in many disasters such as this, there are many needs to be met, and a call has gone out for assistance. And of course, this is personal to me as I was in the Peace Corps there in 1965 to 1967.
Here are three possible organizations that I am aware of that are reputable groups providing assistance. If you are able to help, please consider donating to one of these (or any other that you may know of that can responsibly provide assistance to those in need):
Global Giving (Includes 10 different projects that are providing relief in Sierra Leone)
Much thanks in advance.
As some of you may know, our daughter Elizabeth (Beth) and son-in-law Brandt are the parents for a second time with the birth almost two weeks ago of Brooklyn (Brooke) Shapira Tilis.
Brooke has had a lovely first several weeks, what with adoring grandparents (two sets) around and with various other family and parental friends attending also. Her sister’s (Samantha) most frequent ‘words’ (after ‘mom ma’) are ‘ba ba’ as she refers to this new addition to the family. Whether she understands that Brooke is a permanent addition or not is yet to be determined, but so far, the whole family seems to be adjusting well.
And who does Brooke look like?
See if you can tell.
After the family hospital picture below, you will find 10 photos, of both Brooke and Samantha taken during their first two weeks of life. Do not assume there are five of each. See if you can distinguish between them. The correct answers will appear in the Comment section of this post on Thursday.
Photo # 1:
(Brandt and Samantha prior to their four day solo.)
Our ‘second’ son-in-law, Brandt, had the pleasure/duty to take care of our fourth grandchild (his first child) for almost four days by himself as our second daughter, his wife, was away for a long deserved break. I asked him to keep careful notes and to write something when and if he and she (Samantha) survived. (Note: Brandt’s own parental unit and his siblings would readily say that child care is not exactly Brandt’s primary strength.)
When the ‘trial’ was over, I received the following two photos from Brandt. The first is in our daughter’s handwriting and so apparently must have been a reminder list for what to feed the young princess.
We are under assault.
Research presented at a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies this month warns of a grave threat to America’s children: Grandma and Grandpa. The study suggests older people are so hopelessly out of date on child-rearing recommendations that they may put their beloved grandchildren at risk.
Apparently, because we have not been ‘trained’ adequately, our children are being warned against allowing us to help with the grandchildren. Despite having been parents already, or perhaps because we were parents so long ago, we are out of date and cannot be trusted with the grand kinder.
[I wrote about this a few years ago: Are Grandparents (Becoming) Obsolete? In that Mar. 3, 2013 post I brought to your attention that we no longer were the ‘go to’ source for answering questions from our grandchildren. We had been replaced by Google. And that may even be out of date if your grandkid has Alexa to answer all of his/her questions.]
Now, in an attempt to stay up to date myself about politics and other issues and not just remain in my ideological bubble, I’ve expanded my morning reading of newspapers and other articles to include, among other sources, The Wall Street Journal and even The Drudge Report.
Imagine my horror when I saw this article this morning in the WSJ.
Sorry Gramps, You’re No Expert by Lenore Skenazy, Wall Street Journal, 5/17/17. (The subtitle of the article: “Are the people who raised you qualified to take care of your child?”)
Apparently we are not to be trusted because we don’t know all of the latest ‘research’ and ‘child expert advice’ that our own children are getting about raising their kids.
Ellen, let’s cancel those six upcoming dates to help out with the three grandchildren in Bethesda and the three scheduled trips to Kansas City in the next couple of months to help out with the grandchild there (and the one that is schedule to come in mid-August). After all, we wouldn’t want to put them at risk.
Maybe we can get back to traveling more frequently.
PS – I told you it wasn’t a good idea to slow down on our traveling. Now I have research to back me up. Let’s put South Africa, New Zealand, and the Arctic back on our schedule. Do you want to call the travel agent or should I?
I was at a funeral recently where the son of the deceased read a lovely eulogy to his dad, Sol. I only knew Sol briefly in his latter years, but Doug’s review of his dad’s life not only told me much I did not know, it also reminded me of the finale song of Act 2 in Lin Manuel’s Hamilton — Who lives, Who dies, Who tells your story? (…But When you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame, who tells your story?…)
This weekend, Saturday, it will be ten years since my mother, Esther Goodman Miller, (“Esty”) died. Then, on May 18th, it will have been 100 years since she was born.
As it gets further from her life and death, I want to keep her name and flame alive, alive for myself and my sister, alive for the rest of the family who is still living, and alive for the great grand children, only one whom she ever met.
And so I repost** the Eulogy I gave at her graveside.
EULOGY – May 15, 2007
Some of us [here] are teachers; some are doctors. Some make news, and some report it. Some build bridges, or bridge tables. Some are lawyers, government workers. Some grow fruit, and some seek to make the country and the world a better place.
Esty was none of these, at least not directly.
She was a caretaker and a builder of families.
When you know a bit about her background, that’s kind of an amazing choice of careers — or maybe not so surprising. Esty’s mother died when Esty was four months old. For the next seven years she lived with various relatives and family friends as her father, Rob, was trying to earn a living and couldn’t take care of an infant and young child. She sometimes saw him on weekends but had no real family life of her own during her early, formative years.
When Esty was seven, Rob, Pappy to many of us, and a prince of a man, remarried and Esty suddenly had a family of her own. Along with her stepmother Ray came Arnold, the older brother Esty had always wanted and whom she instantly worshiped and who was so good to her.
From an early age Esty’s role seemed to involve taking care of others – grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Many of you here can attest to that. She baby sat for cousin Arthur, standing here, and claims she changed his diapers.
Esty finished high school not far from here (much to her relief) and started nursing school. Her patients loved her, but probably because she so identified with their cares, worries, and illnesses, she agreed with her father’s urging not to pursue that career.
She went the U of NH, met Sam at the opening night mixer, and thought he was a bit mad when walking her back to the dorm, he told her he was going to marry her (I think she had another boyfriend at the time).
Esty and Sam married just a few years later and had Janet and myself in rapid succession. After living in eye sight of Fenway Park (Pappy was a Red Sox devotee all his life) and in Brookline, they moved to Orlando for Sam’s citrus work. Sam soon left to protect his country (as a librarian in San Diego), and Esty devoted herself to a long and never ending career of mothering, care taking, and building of family. Not only taking care of her own, Esty found a circle of young friends with young families and became treasured for her kindnesses and ability to help and care about others.
When I went a few days ago to tell one of these good friends, a friend of more than 60 years, Ruth Esther, that Esty was nearing her end, Ruth Esther cried and cried, saying how Esty was like a sister to her and her best friend and how helpful Esty had been to her in raising her own family. I’ve heard similar stories repeatedly in the last week, many for the first time. I know everyone assembled here could tell about how Esty looked out for you, took care of you, was special in some way in your life, maybe healed a wound or gave you comfort. She just seemed to have a way of touching people and making them feel special.
I’m sure I’m not totally objective, but I spend much of my life listening to and observing people, and I have never once heard an unkind word said about Esty. I would hope and urge you over the next few days and weeks to tell us or to write us of your stories of Esty’s importance to you. We want to know and to remember these stories. It is part of her legacy.
Esty never put herself first. If there was a weakness, it might well have been that she may not have known or appreciated her own worth. Everyone, absolutely everyone’s needs – her husband’s, her parents’, her nieces’, her nephews’, her children’s, her grandchildren’s, her friends,’ whomever she came in contact with – came before her own self.
As most of you know, Esty had breast cancer 25 years ago, had a botched gall bladder operation that almost killed her eight years ago, and over the past three years was overcome by a cascading series of medical issues and crises. But none of these physical difficulties changed Esty’s basic nature. What most distressed her was that she could no longer care for herself. She hated being dependent on others for her care. Starting at 86 she was forced to rely on others. And though she hated this dependency, she did it her way. She kept her frustrations largely to herself (save an occasional harsh word with Sam, probably well deserved) and continued to worry and care about others. (Her sense of humor did seem to emerge and deepen in these later years; just 10 days ago, upon hearing Victor sing, she told him not to give up his ‘day job.’)
A few days ago Janet was asking her if she was afraid, and Esty nodded, ‘Yes.’ “About yourself?” Esty shook her head, “No.” “About your family?” Esty nodded, “Yes.” She told one of her wonderful aides that she worried about Sam especially, and also her kids and grand kids. We tried to tell her she needn’t worry (she was a world class worrier all her life, tho near the end she seemed to make some progress with no longer feeling responsible for everyone else). She had taught us how to take care of each other — by her example. Even on the day of her death, Mother’s Day, (a week shy of her 90th birthday, which she thought was entirely too many birthdays), she found a way to help her family – Sam, Janet, Victor, and myself.
And so maybe she was not only a mother, a care taker, a builder of family. She was also her own kind of healer, settler of disputes, teacher, cultivator.
While we have already missed Esty some of the last several years – and fear we will miss her even more in the days and years to come – we are glad she is returning to her Goodman family, to lie next to Arnold, Rob, and Ray. She has missed them so much these past years. She deserves to rest, and she deserves this resting place from where she came. And she has certainly earned over and over her maiden name Goodman.
**Posted on MillersTime — 1/15/09 Upon the Birth of Eli David Orgad, Named in Memory of ‘Esty’
Before you read any further, check out the photos above carefully. What you can see is my 14th month old granddaughter now ‘sporting’ — so to speak — diapers that clearly display what I trust will be her life choice of a favorite baseball team.
Believe it or not, her mother, my younger daughter, was the person who found and procured said diapers. (I admit I did support the idea once she mentioned it to me, but in truth, it was all her idea.)
Thus, my ‘work’ is done as far as this grandchild is concerned. Her mother seems to have it all well under control.
However, just in case, here are a few further actions she might take to embed a Sox obsession in her progeny:
I do want to congratulate her mother on finding the lovely diapers, which gives me a good deal of relief that I do not have to worry about Samantha’s Sox education.
And a final special note to Samantha’s father: There is no problem encouraging her to follow both an NFL and a MLB team. And while I suspect he will favor football over baseball, it is possible, and quite important, for him to participate in this essential parental duty of supporting Samantha’s potential life long love of the Sox.
Photography by Ellen Miller
Among so many other wonderful things, baseball is also about connecting generations. Look around you at any MLB or professional game, especially a day game, and you’ll see fathers/mothers with their sons/daughters. Look more closely, and you’ll see grandfathers/grandmothers with their grandsons/granddaughters.
(Digression: I’ve written elsewhere on this site about my wonderful grandfather who introduced me to Fenway Park and my Red Sox obsession when I was less than 10 years old. I’ve written about taking my daughters to games for years, including World Series victories! And about my belief that it’s never too early to start because here’s what can happen. Most recently, I blogged about taking my then seven year old to his first Fenway game and taking my six year old granddaughter to see the Nats. And if what my grandson promised me (unasked!) — that he would take his grandson to Fenway Park — then that will be seven generations (over 100 years) of family seeing the Sox and baseball together and sharing wonderful memories of being connected with each other.)
Thus, a long lead in to something new this year I am adding to my annual MillersTime Baseball Contests:
Consider a Joint Submission with a son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, niece, nephew or with your father, mother, aunt or uncle, or grandfather or grandmother. If you and your ‘generational companion’ win, then both of you will get a ‘prized’ MillersTime Winner T-shirt and two tickets to a regular season game of your choice.
This addition is clearly a transparent attempt to encourage different generations to discuss baseball and for one generation to pass on their baseball interest to a younger generation, or, if you’re participating with an older generation, to get that older generation to share with you things from their past.
My definition of ‘different generations’ is a loose one, and as long as you ‘discuss’ some of the contests with someone older or younger and submit joint answers to the contests, then you will qualify. Even if you have to drag some kid off his/her Internet device or an elder out of his or her 4 PM dinner.
I am hoping for at least ten submissions this year that are Joint Submissions. And I am hoping that at least some of those are from women with a daughter, a son, a niece, a nephew, a mother, a grandmother, or a grandfather, etc. — the possible combinations are almost endless.
Please consider being one of the Joint Submitters.
See: 2017 MillersTime Baseball Contests :
Samantha, age 11 months, was left in the care of her maternal grand parents (Nonna – Ellen and GrandPapa – Richard) for a three day weekend with the following ‘instructions.’
Samantha’s Perfect Day
7 AM – Wake and six ounces (milk)
8 AM – Breakfast (yogurt or oatmeal, 1/4 cup & 1/4 cup water)
9 AM – Nap (sleep suit, noise machine, close curtain)
10:30 AM – Snack (fruit, avocado, cheese, no sippy)
Noon – 4 oz + lunch (veggies, toast with almond butter, baby pouch)
1 PM – Nap (sleep suit, noise machines, close curtains)
3 PM – Snack (cheese, avocado, cherrios, no sippy)
5:15ish – Dinner (left overs from previous night’s adult dinner)
6:15 PM – Bedtime
6 ounces in sippy (in bedroom)
Change into pajamas
New Diaper & Cream
Discuss What You’re Thankful For
Into Sleep Suit
Noise Machines On
Into Crib, Close Door
“Goodnight Samantha. I Love You!”
“GOOD GIRLS SLEEP ALL NIGHT!”
6:45 PM – Asleep
When I read these instructions, I knew immediately that I had a MillersTime post in the making. All I had to do was to type in the instructions, and then add in what really happened, perhaps with an occasional exaggeration for a laugh.
But a funny thing happened.
Samantha followed the script exactly, at least for the first 48 hours. She got up on schedule after 12 or 13 hours sleeping at night, napped at the right times, ate when she was ‘supposed’ to, etc. I had nothing to write about.
(Disclosure: Actually, in the third and final evening there was a bit of a hiccup as Samantha was unhappy about going to bed a bit early. She had been fussy throughout the late afternoon, and we’d been told by her mother that it was OK to put her to bed a bit earlier than the schedule indicated if it seemed necessary. Hah. Thirty minutes of screaming in the only ‘meltdown’ of the weekend. But after a short ‘intervention’ on our part, she went to sleep, about her regular time, and slept another 12 hours.)
I guess she just has a good parental unit.
But then, of course, her parents had good parental units too. So I guess it’s not a surprise that she would ‘perform’ as intended.
Thus, instead of my snarky comments, all you get are photos from Ellen.
Two years ago I ‘lost’ a friend I had had for 50 years over an issue that involved politics, i.e., over differing views about how each of us saw an issue that one of us felt deeply passionate about. It was a painful loss then and remains a painful loss.
Now, the split that has emerged in the country from the presidential election is one that I see and hear spilling into friendships and into families. I personally don’t want to repeat the experience I had two years ago, and similarly, I am deeply concerned about the conflicts I see emerging on both a national level and personal and family levels.
I don’t have any answers about how we might respond to these current differences nor how we might prevent these conflicts from splitting friends and splitting families.
Do we simply ignore them and pretend they don’t exist?
After she carefully watched us grand parent her sister’s three children for almost eight years, daughter Elizabeth decided she could leave her almost eight month old Samantha with us over night (28 hours and 34 minutes as it turned out). She was scheduled to run in a half marathon a couple of states away, and her husband, son-in-law Brandt, was scheduled to be away in California during that time for his work (with the Kansas City Chiefs).
Thus, we found ourselves in KC this past Friday, reviewing Samantha’s schedule and receiving instructions from both Elizabeth and Brandt as to what we could expect and what they expected us to do. Actually, they both seemed remarkably calm for first time parents leaving the first born overnight. True, we had raised our own children with minimum of damage, but that was more than three decades ago. And, we had ‘taken care’ of Samantha for up to 12 hours, but never overnight. Still, compared to the “Miller Bible,” the 22 page outline we had drawn up for my sister 35 years ago when she was taking care of our daughters, Elizabeth and Brandt’s instructions seemed almost derelict. Other than a 12-step process to be followed for putting Samantha to bed at night and an outline of what and when we were to feed the child prodigy, it only took about an hour of instruction (with shorthand note taking).
From time to time I’ve written a ‘letter’ to your oldest cousin, Eli, usually to tell him something about an obsession of mine — baseball — which is a game that has many similarities to life (more about that another time).
While I know you can’t read just yet, as you’re not even seven months old, I still think it’s never to early for me to begin talking to you about some of the important things a grandfather has learned and can pass on to his grandchildren. (You may remember in the first week of your life I talked to you about the importance of pitching over hitting, another subject to which I will return to in the future.)
This letter today, which I trust your good mother or good father will read to you, is similar to one I wrote to Eli in April of 2015 (see Letter to Eli: Never Leave Until It’s Over). What prompts me to write you at this time is something that happened last night in Boston.
Our heroes, the Boston Red Sox (also known as the Sox) were on the verge of losing to our most despicable opponent, the New York Yunkees. The odds makers said that the Sox chance of winning this game was now less than 2%. It was an important game as the Sox were barely in first place in the American League East Division, and the Orioles, the Blue Jays, and the Yunkees were closing in on them. (Ask your parental unit about any of these details that you don’t totally yet understand.)
The Yunks were ahead of us 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth, and there were two outs. One more out and we’d lose and our grip on first place would be in further jeopardy. The Yunks had their closer in the game, a guy who throws the ball at 100 miles per hour. Things looked dire for the Sox.
Then, David Ortiz (ask your cousin Eli abut him) got a hit and drove in a run, but the Sox were still behind (5-3 now) with two outs. Mookie Betts, (Eli knows about him too), the young Sox phenom, then got a hit, and the score closed to 5-4.
Still, just one out would have clinched the game for the Yunks.
With two men on base, and with a batting count of two balls and one strike, Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez crushed a 99.3 mph fastball 426 feet to straight away center field, and the Sox walked off (ran off) the field with a 7-5 win.
An amazing comeback and probably the best win of the year for the Sox and a disaster for the Yunks, who now, rather being only three games out of first, were five games behind our heroes. (See this article if you want more details about the game.)
The lesson, of course, that I want to emphasize about this victory is that the Sox didn’t give up, even when everything looked hopeless. The Boston fans (the game was at Fenway) all stayed until the very end. And of course I stayed with the game hoping for a miracle come-from-behind-win.
So, never, ever, leave a game until the final out, no matter how bad it seems. Even with two outs and facing a flame throwing pitcher who is good at getting strikeouts, there is always a chance for victory.
(I know, when you were two months old, your mother dragged you away from your first baseball game in KC after the second inning because she was concerned about the effect of loud noise on your ears. So it’s probably OK, if on a rare occasion, for reasons beyond YOUR control, you may have to leave a game early. For example, there could be a medical emergency in your immediate family that only you can solve. You may have promised your spouse that this time you’d be home before midnight. Or your presence might be required at some other emergency involving your child or your work. Those may be understandable and partially excusable reasons for leaving a game early.)
But never, ever leave because you think the game is all but over and your team doesn’t have a chance of winning.
The game, in baseball, as in other areas of your life, is not over until the final out is recorded.
Boston, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Evan Longoria, Evan Somma, Fenway Park, grandfathers, grandsons, Green Monster, Hanley Ramirez, Hotel Commonwealth, Landsdowne Street, Mookie Betts, Rays, Red Sox Team Store, Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Ted Williams, Yawkee Way
This trip to Boston and Fenway Park with my seven year old grandson Eli was not my idea.
You may not believe that, but you can check with his parents (my daughter and son-in-law), and they will confirm that Eli raised the idea with them, asking, “When is GrandPapa going to take me to see Fenway Park?”
It is true that I had introduced him to baseball with a trip to see the Washington Nationals when he was seven months old. And it’s true I talk endlessly about the Red Sox around him, and we did complete a 500 (or was it 1,000 ?) piece jigsaw puzzle of Fenway Park.
But it’s also true he has become a Nats’ fan first, and the Sox are only his second favorite team.
I don’t care about that. I just love having him sit in my lap and talking nonstop to him at any game about what we’re seeing.
And tradition’s important in my life and in our family. So, of course, I needed to take him to Boston.
Background: At least 60 years ago, probably closer to 65 years, my grandfather took me to Fenway Park and introduced me to that temple and to what became my obsession with the Sox. In fact, the best week of every year for me was when school let out in June in Florida where I lived at the time, I’d go to Boston for a week prior to going to camp in New England. Pappy would take me to Fenway for batting practice before the game. He had wonderful seats a few rows behind the Sox dugout. And as I ‘remember’ it, sometimes players would say to him, “Pops, where were you last night? You weren’t here.” That’s pretty heady stuff for a 7-10 year old, especially when it was likes of Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, Billy Goodman, Jimmy Piersall, etc. who would be talking to my grandfather.
(Aside 1: My sister recently reminded me that on one of those early trips I held a ball out to Ted Williams when I was at Fenway with Pappy, and the Splendid Splinter refused to sign it. Somehow, I got over that disappointment and have admired Williams’ ability to hit a baseball all my life.)
(Aside 2: I had good practice for the trip with Eli. Ask either of my daughters, who attended many games with me in Boston, some even voluntarily. And if you haven’t read this email that my daughter Beth/Elizabeth wrote the night the Sox won the World Series in 2004, stop now and check it out.)
Thus, with no reluctance and a good deal of advanced planning, Eli spent the night with us last Monday so we could catch an early flight to Boston on Tuesday. I had arranged a room at the Commonwealth Hotel, which has recently added rooms overlooking the back of Fenway and the Green Monster. Additionally, I got seats for two games, one directly behind home plate, just below the press box, and those tickets came with access to the field for batting practice and time up in the Green Monsters seats. For the second game, I got seats as close to where Pappy had his seats 65 years ago behind the Sox dugout.
(Aside 3: When I told Eli we were going to sit where my grandfather had taken me for my first trip to Fenway and now I was taking him to the very same place, he said, without prompting, “And I’ll take my grandson there too.”)
Tuesday didn’t turn out quite the way I had envisioned it, though it started off well enough. Eli was delighted with the big picture window overlooking Fenway, loved jumping endlessly from one of the double beds to the other in that room, and enjoyed lobster for lunch. I took him to my favorite store in the world, the enormous Red Sox Team Store across the street from the ballpark on Yawkey Way. Despite telling him we wouldn’t buy anything until we had walked through the entire store, he began pointing out things he knew he wanted within 30 seconds of entering this overwhelming collection of must have Sox paraphernalia.
But then things began to diverge from my carefully planned agenda. About 4:30 PM we were walking to where we were supposed to gather for our pregame Fenway tour. I stopped to ask directions, and, unbeknownst to me, Eli kept walking. When I turned around, he wasn’t there. Thirty seconds later (it seemed much longer at the time) I found him being comforted by two street program sellers. Eli and I were both relieved to have found each other. (Don’t tell his parents about this part of our trip please.)
Anyway, back together, Eli and I met our tour leader, and he took us up to the viewing section on top of the Green Monster. Eli had his glove, but the closest batting practice ‘home run’ was one section away. He was disappointed not to have gotten a ball. When an usher pointed out that one of the ‘home run’ balls had gone over his head had broken a windshield in a parked car across Landsdowne Street, Eli forgot about his disappointment and kept talking about the broken windshield and how far the ball had gone.
Next, we went onto the field and were able to stand just behind the batting cage. We had brought a number of items we hoped we could get signed by David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts and any other Sox players we saw. Unfortunately, there were no Sox players anywhere to be seen. It was the Tampa Bay players who were taking batting practice as the Sox had completed their batting practice already and were in their clubhouse. No signatures for us, and no chance to meet David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, or Mookie Betts.
Before the game actually began, I took him to the patio inside Gate B where there were bricks ‘inscribed’ by fans who donated money for a resurfacing of the patio and to support a charity. It took a few minutes, but I found the two bricks I had purchased, one saying “Thanks Pappy, Love Richard” and a second one saying, “Beth, Keep the Flame Alive, Love Papa.” I don’t think Eli was particularly impressed as he was hungry and ready for the game to start.
Finally the game. Great seats, directly behind the catcher and high enough that we had a ‘bird’s eye’ view and could see if the umpire was right or wrong in calling balls and strikes. First inning Tampa Bay got a run. The Sox later tied it and went ahead, only to see Rays get two runs and tie it up. I had told him there would be a message on the scoreboard with his name after the fifth inning. But that time came and went, and we didn’t see any message. In the eighth inning, just seconds after I mentioned to Eli that Tampa Bay’s best player was coming to bat, Evan Longoria hit a ball 434 feet over the Green Monster and out of the park to put Tampa Bay ahead by one run. Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, and David Ortiz couldn’t get the run back, and Eli’s first game at Fenway was over, a 4-3 loss.
(Aside 4: I’ve chosen not to burden Eli with the Red Sox pessimism and realities with which I grew up — 48 years of never winning the World Series and the fact that my grandfather never saw them win a WS at all. Yes, the Sox finally won the WS in 2004 after 86 years of not doing so and went on to win two more WS within the decade. Nevertheless, Red Sox fans, myself included, have yet to overcome the pessimism and fatalism that those 86 years instilled.)
The next day I drove Eli to see where I had lived on Beacon Street when I was born, just a stone’s throw from Fenway and to see where my father had lived in Brookline when he was Eli’s age. We also saw where his mother had lived after college, amazingly, just across the street from where my father, her grandfather, his great grandfather had lived. We went back to the Sox store, our third trip, and then headed to an afternoon game where we had seats near where my grandfather had had his season tickets. We were three rows off the field and just behind where the Sox players waited ‘on deck’ to bat. Eli seemed pretty tired (he had stayed up almost to midnight the previous day), and when the Rays again scored a run in the first inning and two in the second, he said something like, “Here we go again.”
He revived when David Ortiz, from the on deck ‘circle’, picked up a foul ball, looked into the stands, spotted Eli, and flipped the ball to him over the screen. Unfortunately, a guy just in front of us grabbed the ball and gave it to some other kid. As the game went on, the Rays went ahead 4-1, and Eli had been unable to get a used ball, despite everyone around us trying to help. I told him not to give up, and shortly thereafter, the ball boy flipped ball over the screen to him, and with his glove on his left hand and sitting on my shoulders, he caught it.
We probably could have come home then, but now Eli was lit up. The Sox loaded the bases, and Hanley Ramirez hit one over the Green Monster, making the score 5-4 Sox. Then ‘we’ got another run, but the Rays tied the game, 6-6. I saw a second loss coming, but not Eli. He was rewarded for his optimism and hope as the Sox scored two runs in the eighth and held firm in the 9th inning.
Eli had his ‘caught’ baseball, seen a Sox grand slam, and had his first Fenway victory. The loss from game one was forgotten, as was his not getting autographs or seeing his name on the scoreboard. (We later learned, thanks to the very helpful Reservations Manager at the hotel, Evan Somma, the message had indeed been posted, just not on the main scoreboard. See the picture at the top of this post). On the way out, I challenged Eli to show me where the two ‘family’ bricks were, and he led me right to them.
At dinner, he told me his five favorite things over the two days: 1) seeing his first game in Fenway, 2) catching a ball, 3) spending time with grandpapa, 4) seeing a grand slam over the Green Monster, and 5) seeing Fenway Park. (Sure I loved number three, but actually I loved them all!)
Assuming Eli keeps his word and takes his children and grandchildren to Fenway, that will make for seven generations and well over 100 years of Sox support in our one small family.
How’s that for keeping the flame alive?
Kerry and family
Most of you never knew Kerry. She was a woman — a mother, a wife, a friend, a confident — who was the ultimate caregiver, taking care of my mother in the last years of her life, and later doing the same for my father.
My mother, Esty, herself had been a caretaker almost all her life, beginning at a very early age when she was a companion to her own grandmother. So I knew one when I saw one. When Esty needed care herself at age 87, Kerry came into our lives to give comfort and care far beyond what we ever expected. Not long before Esty died, she asked Kerry to promise to take care of Sam. Kerry promised to do so.
Initially, after Esty’s death, Sam didn’t need much physical assistance, but Kerry attended to him and provided stability. As he began to have difficulties of his own, Kerry let us know how much he missed us and needed us. (He would never let us know that directly.) With her encouragement, we eventually were able to convince Sam to come to Washington. Kerry, even though it meant she was then out of a job, was most delighted. She flew with him to DC as he had broken his arm two days before he was due to come to us and couldn’t travel by himself. She stayed a week to be sure he was settled and she could trust us to provide what he needed. She said she’d come back to DC at a moment’s notice if or when we needed her.