April 19, 2007

You’re A Father, Charlie Brown …

The word “sacrifice” is defined as “giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.” In biblical times, sacrifice meant giving up your most prized sheep to get in God’s good graces. During the Great Depression, it meant working degrading jobs just to feed your family. And yet neither of those compare to the unthinkable sacrifices you must make as a parent in the 21st century.

Brittany: “Hey hun?”

Me: “Yes my lovely wife?”

Brittany: “When the baby is born, I think you should cut back on your softball playing.”

(Long pause.)

Me: “I’m leaving you.”

This scene took place right after I told Brittany about my plan to play an upcoming softball tournament. I’ve always been willing to give up a lot for the baby—partying, money, my dream of owning a pet elephant—but not softball. Never. It wasn’t until I heard this story that … well, you’ll see.

I’d like to tell you the tale of my friend, Weave, who sacrificed for his pregnant wife. We met on the softball diamonds of Lombard, Ill. back in the spring of 2002 (thanks to our mutual friend and coach, Joe). I was a young softball star in the making (stop laughing), and Weave was a big-hearted, seasoned veteran who brought his ALF bobblehead to the park each night for good luck. When asked to describe himself, he replied, “I’m the living embodiment of Charlie Brown—someone is always pulling the ball out from under me.”

His wife, Julie, also played on the team and spent most of her time scooping bad throws (from yours truly) at first base. Aside from being a gold-glover, she also swung a mighty stick and, as legend has it, once led our team in home runs—though you won’t find a single guy on the team willing to confirm this. More important, Julie is also pregnant with their first child.

Last week, Weave received an instant message from Tom (another friend):

"Want to go boo Sammy Sosa next Wednesday night at the White Sox game?" Weave, whose love of the White Sox rivals my love of the Reds, never passes up the offer to go to a game. He also never passes up the chance to boo Sammy Sosa. But after contemplating the offer for a few days, he turned it down.

“Julie always said I could go to games and such, but I just didn’t want to go,” he said. “I want to stay with her and be around as much as I can for the pregnancy.”

On Wednesday night Weave did what he normally does: ate some dinner, checked his fantasy teams, called friends and family to tell them about a hilarious column he read called The Life Of Dad and, of course, watched the White Sox. The starting pitcher that night was Mark Buehrle, a southpaw who’s so ineffective he’s often confused for a batting tee. Weave decided to channel surf, assuming that the Sox would get thumped. Around the 5th inning he noticed something interesting—Buehrle hadn’t given up a hit.

He stopped surfing.

“I knew right then, I swear,” Weave said. “I passed up the chance to see a no-hitter.”

Now, for you crazy non-baseball types, no-hitters are about as rare a phenomenon as Brittany passing up candy—sure, it happens, but not many have seen it and years can pass before it happens again. In fact, the last time a Red threw a no-hitter Ronald Regan was president, interest rates were 10% and I was in love with Winnie Cooper. I’d have given up anything—including Winnie—to be at that game.

Weave stared at the TV. The sixth, seventh and eighth innings passed and still no hits. He paced all over the living room. Julie, who had been online looking up baby strollers, joined him. She watched with half excitement, pretending to care.

He kept muttering to himself, “I could have been at this game!” But he wasn’t; he was home with his wife. And with that, Buehrle threw his final pitch, inducing a grounder to the third baseman and completing his no-hitter. Weave began clapping and a tear rolled down his cheek. Julie, like any loving wife, smiled, mocked his tear and went back to talking about strollers.

Good Grief.

Sacrifices come in all shapes and forms. Whether it’s missing history to care for your pregnant wife or cutting back the number of nights you play softball, good dads will always give up anything for their children (and even children-to-be). Weave’s story helped give me perspective and taught me a lesson that I’ll never forget:

Kids will always be a pain in the butt.


jennwb said...

not to mention the recent sacrafice at our house ..the xbox (sold on ebay for a measley 70 bones :)
DADS are the best!!
love the brogans

Tom said...

The question is, what does this say about me. The guy with the 3 year old who just becaome a White Sox season ticket holder?

And Brian, don't lie, your still in love with Winnie Cooper, we all are.

Will said...

In regards to your topic about cutting back on softball...

I don't even want to think about it.
How many topics are you going to bring up that leave me at a loss for words?

Winnie was and is hot, I'm still waiting for her to notice me.