Saturday, September 12, 2009

Remembering on September 11...for Other Reasons

Not long ago, I heard from an old friend...OK, an old girlfriend that her father was sick. Sadly, he died earlier this week. Rachel sent her Facebook friends a note with the details on services. Turned out that they would be held in Mount Kisco - not far from me.

My first instinct was: go. I remember how many faces were there for me when my dad died, and how much it meant. Still, I hadn't seen most of Rachel's family in 22 years. I'm also an ex-boyfriend. How would that play with her husband? Yet Rachel and I had stayed friendly - occasional letters while in college, then finding each other on Facebook. I hoped it wasn't a bad thing, yet I know of someone who was jealous of Rachel because I never spoke badly of her.

Right up until the last minute, I kept thinking. I went with my instinct.

I went.

Turned out that I walked into a memorial service. I sat in the very back of the room and listened. Rachel's husband and brother spoke, and spoke well. It gave me time to flashback...

It was 1987. Rachel and I dated for a few months. She went to my senior prom with me, and we had a fun spring and summer. I remember a few things vividly about her father, specifically about baseball.

He was a Mets fan, and that was not easy for me in 1987, when the Mets were the defending world champions. The Yankees had Donnie Baseball, Winfield, and Rickey but no pitching. Rachel's dad, Arthur, coached her twin brother's in baseball. Somehow, I quickly became an assistant coach of sorts. I helped run a few practices, and even a few games.

I can clearly remember Arthur, in his manner of speaking, telling me to go the pitcher's mound: "Rob, Rob, Rob. Go talk to him. I can't do it. He'll listen to you."

I did. He listened. We won.

I so clearly remember his love of baseball cards, and the antique show that we went to in New Jersey - right in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. It was a gorgeous warm day, and I'll never forget driving out there in their Jaguar with the vanity license plate, spelling each family members name. We found a dealer with a collection of cards, and he trusted my judgment as to the value of each card. For my efforts, he bought a 1959 Roger Maris card for me (he actually bought two and gave me one).

For my high school graduation, he and the family gave me one of the prides of my modest collection: a 1953 White Ford card.

It was sitting at Rachel's house that I saw "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" for the first time - at her insistence - and was hooked.

So it was that I flooded my brain yesterday, on a day that we remember for other reasons.

It was nice to see the family - clearly shocked by my presence. I wish I could have filmed Rachel's reaction. It was classic. She was touched, and I felt it was the least I could do.

Here's to you, Arthur.

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