The Ripples Remain

It’s happening right now…

Calm water is being disturbed. A stiff breeze. A raindrop. A razor-thin stone shot from the shore.

A circular wave ensues, gradually and beautifully moving away from the point of impact. The ripple spreads, affecting the water all around it.

We all have this same power.

When I was a boy, I was a legendary pretend baseball player. On any given Michigan summer day, you could find me in the yard—a glove, a ball, a dusty, well-worn cap on my head. I was the best athlete in the world; a specimen. I’d throw the ball high in the air and make Sportcenter-worthy catches before there was such a thing. If you drove by my house, you’d say I was alone, but I saw something entirely different. I saw a whole team behind me. I saw brightly colored uniforms. I saw a huge crowd in the stands. I saw the cutest girls in the school unable to take their eyes off me as I stood on the mound intimidating my opponents. In reality, I was among the skinniest, shortest, and least athletic kids in the city. But in mind, I was a phenom, someone’s protégé. I routinely mowed down the greatest invisible ballplayers in the world. I was so talented that I was also the game’s announcer “Harding winds and delivers…SWING AND A MISS! Boy, he looks good today Al.” “He sure does,” I replied, in a slightly lower voice.

I did this for hours waiting for my dad to come home from work so I could play catch with him. Dad would pull into our long stone driveway at around 5:30 every night. As the rubber tires rolled atop the loose pebbles, my stomach would tie up in knots. “We’ll be right back with more action right after these words,” I would whisper. The invisible baseball league would have to wait. I had some real ball to play. I must have driven Dad nuts. He just got home after a long day at the office. He probably had a cold beer, a comfortable chair, and TV on his agenda. I didn’t care. There I stood in the driveway, a glove in one hand, a ball in the other. I was already warmed up. “Dad, get your mitt,” I yelled before he even had a chance to turn off the engine. “Come on!”

This memory came rushing back to me faster than one of my invisible 98 mile an hour fast balls today as I played catch with my daughter in our yard.

It also got me thinking about ripples.

The time my dad took to throw a few grounders and a couple of pop ups to his son created a ripple—a ripple whose effects reach a backyard in Tennessee some 35 years later.

And what about mom? Well, Mom is about the only person in the world who wouldn’t make fun of me when I played ball in the yard by myself. I’m sure she heard me hit the game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. I’m positive she heard the call when I struck out three in a row to win the World Series. She made her own ripple just by letting a boy be a boy.

Some of my friends are beginning to lose their parents. It leaves an emptiness that cannot be described or fully understood. With that in mind, all I can do is hold on and cherish the time. All I can do is be a great father to my daughters, grab a glove, play some catch, and recognize the ripples.

Because while my mother and father won’t be here forever…..

The ripples remain…