So, it’s the Red Sox and Tigers. The matchup my 96-year-old dad and I discussed, hoped for, as he lay in a hospital bed in Michigan a month ago.
“That Fielder guy; he’s a big one, isn’t he," dad said as a game between Detroit and Oakland distracted us from the issue at hand" stopping a bleeding artery that had brought him to the emergency room, one year to the day of my mother’s death.
There were dreadful moments during that week; sedation for several tests which all proved inconclusive, moments of humiliation and embarrassment, and my father’s eventual inability to take in food or water. When things got tough, though, we would look up together at the TV screen hanging above his hospital bed and watch baseball.
“Who’s pitching,” dad would ask. “If I were the coach, I’d make them all get haircuts.”
As the week wore on and he got weaker, he started repeating questions.
“Is Verlander on the mound,” dad would ask as nurses came in to give him a transfusion or take his vitals. Most had no clue but many feigned interest.
“Dad, ” I would say, “wouldn’t it be something if it ended up being the Tigers and the Red Sox in October?” He understood I was a diehard Sox fan and often razzed me when they lost a game. “Yeah, that would be something,” he replied.
It’s ironic that our final conversations revolved around baseball. As a kid growing up in Chicago, I wasn’t much of a fan. In fact, I remember being bored to tears by those seemingly unending Chicago White Sox and Cubs games dad watched. He was a fan of every Chicago team and exasperated my mother with the extent of his sports interest.
But over the years I became a fan, in part because it kept me close to dad. Each night when we talked on the phone- he in his senior apartment in Michigan and I a thousand miles away in Massachusetts- we would kick around scores, trades, potential matchups long enough until he determined the conversation was over.
“Well, I guess we covered all the bases, didn’t we?” he would pronounce. No pun intended.
After a week of undergoing tests, transfusions and procedures, my dad sat face-to-face with his doctor. She told him there was nothing more she could do. Afterwards, I wanted to ask dad a million questions and console him in ways only a daughter could. But I was unable to speak and was desperately trying to hold back tears. Instead, we looked together up at the television screen and pretended to watch the Tigers.
Dad died shortly afterward. I can’t help thinking he had something to do with this upcoming Detroit-Boston matchup.
And if he can hear me, I’d really like to ask him: It really is something, isn’t it dad?