Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Last Out

"And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces." Terrance Mann, Field of Dreams,1989.

"Mom had a heart attack."

My wife's brief phone call about her mother's health crisis was at once ominous and misleading. Jean Carter was a cancer survivor - this, too, would be treated. We were in LA, at one of Pat's PhD residencies - she in class and me at lunch. Over the next twenty-four hours, as we sat marooned by weather, the news from her family members went from bad to worse. This time, there would be no rally. Family at her side, Jean passed.

I was privileged to spend many summer days in her company. Scorecards in hand (she always brought her own pencil), flawless green grass before us and the Rockies in all their maddening splendor - the drama unfolded. We recorded the details, argued about the rules and cheered even when Our Team gave us very little provocation. Sometimes, the Official Scorer saw it one way and Jean saw it another. "He's got his scorecard," she would growl, "and I have mine."

One magnificent, flawless afternoon the Rockies indulged in a fairly common bit of inanity. There were several errors on a play that should have resulted in an out, but somehow Our Heroes scored two runs. Laughing, cheering - disbelief - one of our row neighbors turned to Jean and said "So, how are you gonna score that?"

Of course, she had a solution.

Her virtues were beautifully recounted during the week her family spent celebrating her life. Her son Jim's moving eulogy, delivered with just the right tone, represented a keynote of sorts. Her story belongs to them, and they tell it well.

But, whenever I am in the presence of baseball, she is a memory I cannot brush away.


  1. Beautiful, and of course makes me cry. Now she's at the big diamond in the sky. ;)

  2. Gerard - You are welcome. It helped me to process.

    Thanks, Katy. Maybe now she's getting to watch old Shoeless Joe.