Saturday, November 22, 2008

Riding the Comet

For some unknown reason my thoughts wandered to my dad this morning. It is highly unusual due to the chaotic life we had with each other. But even through the abusive, alcoholic ranting, there were slivers of time when he demonstrated a great teaching to us. One of the most profound is in the area of giving up on dreams.

He was a man 6' 3" tall, muscular and a hard worker. He was also known as a walking alcoholic. He could go to work in the steel mill having had his quota of straight-up whiskey, supervise a crew of men in the blast furnace and be extremely safety conscious. That takes skill. But the main thing I remember is that he had a great talent for playing baseball.

Hearing the stories from him and others about his fastball, pitching no hitter games and his passion was amazing. There was never another subject that would change his face and gestures while speaking except baseball. He was born in 1909 and by the 1930s was a recognized player not only by locals but the majors as well.

I can't remember if it was the White or Red Sox that offered him a contract to come play with them. He was thrilled! He had made it into the major leagues, his future set. There was only one problem--his wife. She was a hometown girl and wasn't about to take on the life of a baseball wife, traveling from city to city, or staying home alone. At the time there were no children in the family. The subject brought on more than a husband/wife argument.

Growing up in the environment of lost dreams and shattered lives, is not a healthy way to live. But it made an indelible print on me. He gave in to my mother, he stayed at the steel plant, and hated life and everything about it.

My lesson learned was simply this: To hold to the dream and vision, sometimes other things have to either go away completely or take a side seat. It is important to have those who value you and your dream in your circle of influence. Sometimes keeping the dream alive is lonely. Don't be afraid to tweak it. Dream followers live on the edge, you have to take chances.

So even through the very rough times, I took away a positive. He taught me to work hard and not stop. Get a plan, a dream, a vision--go for it. My two brothers didn't do that, they took the safe route and were miserable in the end, always looking for the tail of the comet instead of riding it through the universe of could be.


Terri Tiffany said...

Oh Susan! I loved this story because that is how we live--my husband and I! We have watched too many people give up and die because they were afraid to live their dreama!
My husband lost his job a year ago in construction. We have grieved but finally have decided to once again start our own company--foolish maybe--but we feel alive again because we are doing what we love! Despite the odds against us... but that is life!
I hope you write about your Dad for the Chicken Soup book next spring. If you add some dialogue--you have a perfect story about what he taught you in life!

Anonymous said...

What an inspiring story. We often loose site of our dreams in order to have the "safe" life. I always tell my children to follow their dreams no matter what. You do not want to live the rest of your life wondering "If only I had..." Great story! Blessings to you!