My grandpa turned 89 on Saturday and we had a family party for him.
I bring this up on the blog because "Pa" is probably the biggest baseball fan in the family. Well, I'm surely tied with him at this point - but he's been one for much longer. He used to talk a lot about listening to the Cubs in the World Series in 1945. That was about the time he left the Pacific and World War II and returned to Arkansas. Waiting for him there was his wife, my grandma, and his two-year-old son, aka "my Dad."
Pa has listened to or watched probably thousands of Cub games in the past 70-plus years. In his youth, growing up outside the tiny town of Amity, Ark., he remembers hearing the New York Giants, New York Yankees and Cubs and the radio. He gravitated to the Cubs - which worked out pretty well when the family moved to nearby Indiana for work in the late 40s.
In case you're wondering, yes, I'm a lifelong Reds fan - and a near lifelong Tigers fan. Why am I not a rabid Cub fan? Because in the '70s, my formative baseball years, my Dad was sick and tired of the Cubs and so we headed to Riverfront Stadium and Tiger Stadium instead. Dad moved to Arizona a few years ago and really isn't much of a baseball fan. He lightly cheers for the Cubs (and the Diamondbacks).
But I don't think Pa ever wavered.
Last month, my family of three moved out of Pa's house, where we lived for several months after selling our Chicago home and heading close to extended family in Indiana (not far from Ohio). It was nice as I got a chance to watch a lot of baseball with him. We watched plenty of Cubs - but also a lot of Reds and Tigers (as the local cable picked up all of the games for both teams). We stayed up until, I think it was 12:30 a.m., watching Game 6 of the World Series. Pa will sit and watch entire games but nowadays unfortunately doesn't remember who won the game a few minutes after it's over.
The Cubs will always hold a special place for me because of Pa. I plan to get my daughter to Wrigley a few times (although Great American Ballpark will be her first big league venue). I cheer for the Cubs, except when they're playing the Reds and I'd love to see them finally win a World Series. I wish Pa would have been able to see them win one too - when he was still aware enough to fully enjoy it, remember it and talk about it for weeks.
But, as I've been reminded in a very harsh way in the past few days, life just doesn't always work out as planned. I've heard this one before, but it hits home: "You make plans; God laughs."