You can say many things about my life, but never that it is dull. I live for surprises and they don’t have to be big. Which means I had my full share of delight when a Facebook message came saying, “I’m going to a ball tournament in West Chester next weekend. Is that near you?” And that is how I came to sit in the sun for a couple of hours yesterday to kind of watch Brian pitch but much more to sit and catch up on life with my cousin John Van Bogaert. John is the second youngest of the extended Van Bogaert clan. My sister, Laura, is the last. They are 49 and 45 respectively. Where did the time go?
I’m so grateful for his visit for a number of reasons, not the least of which — he is a great guy with a huge smile, wonderful laugh with that decidedly pointed Van Bogaert sense of humor. He is also a great Dad.
My Dad’s been gone for five Father’s Days and the holiday is always a little sad. But John brought Dad back this year by bringing me to a ballpark, reliving the old stories about the Van Bogaert brothers, and coming to Ohio in Dad’s truck. What a joy to be reminded of Dad and especially Dick (John’s Dad) and Eddy (my godfather) — who were my favorites. As it always seems to happen with cousins, we know different things about the family elders. We both walked away with information we had not previously had about our fathers and enjoyed laughing about tales so old they are reaching saga stage.
For me, it was particularly sweet to be at a ballpark this weekend. Dad loved the Cubs and playing ball —a love I inherited but one that my brother, Ken, especially embraced. Ken inherited Dad’s great strength. Like Dad, he could crank a ball out into the blue. He and Brett travel the country winning long ball contests. John told me Dad would say Ken was a ballplayer who farmed on the side. I took Dad’s steamy pitches when Ken practiced with him for little league. In college, I played coed softball with the guys from Sigma Pi and Mike and I played coed early in our marriage.
Most people know me as an arts girl, but I’ve had my affairs with sports. The last was my obsession with the Bulls when Jordan came back. I knew all about the Cubs when I was 10 and Ernie Banks and Ron Santo played. That’s a while back, but every spring I rewatch “The Natural,” “Field of Dreams,” and “Pride of the Yankees” — three of my favorite films. One of the best things about coming to Cincinnati has been rekindling that love of the game. Thanks, John, for the memories.
I want to send wishes to all the great fathers I know: my brothers, Ken and Steve; my brothers-in-law; cousins, and especially dear friends, John Neal, Frank Huitt, Rick Grinnan, Karl Brenholt, Al Bernards, and Jim Larson — new friends, Andrew Tanen, and Jarrod Thomas. And for the great men in my cohort who have been great fathers to their partner’s children, Mike Esch and Norb Krusiec.
May you have a day full of love and much more . . .