When Old Men Play Catch

Since it was a nice Sunday afternoon, my daughter was seeking out someone to play catch with.  As the most experienced and energetic (not much enthusiasm for throwing a ball at our house) candidate, it did not take the long for me to equate “catch” time as father/daughter time.  She gathered my softball glove, got me a glass of water, and ushered me out the door.

As we started loosening up, I remembered why my control wasn’t what it used to be.  When we still lived in Ohio, our long driveway was covered by WAY to much snow.  Our very nice neighbor offered his snow blower.  While I often refused, I chose to listen to my wife’s nudges and children’s loathing of forced labor in a Siberian climate.  As I went into the neighbor’s garage to start the snow blower, I will admit to having a bit more energy than before he made his offer.  I was relieved to realize my fingers and toes would not have to go numb an excessive number of times before the driveway was cleared for safe passage.  The snow blower had a starter rope just like a lawn mover.  So, I jumped in and pulled a few times.  I thought maybe I had flooded it or in someway damaged this savior of the numb fingers.  With a bit of adrenalin, I gave one last good pull.  The blower did not start, but I felt an odd pull/pain in my right arm/wrist.  Not wanting to make my neighbor in any way feel bad, I played off the pain.  He took a look at the blower and quickly realized the gas line had been turned off.  My gentlest tug could have now started it.  My wrist was not up to shoveling, so it was good I had the use of the motorized snow launcher!

Since that day, whenever I try and throw a softball or baseball to hard, I seem to release at the wrong point.  The ball goes off in some less than controlled direction.  So, I am mostly a lobber now with limited control.  Fortunately, my daughter was completely happy with this.  I did change my throwing a bit to try and give her a chance to catch something besides lobs or parabolic throws.  With her being left handed, I worked to spot my throw to try and strengthen her ability in her weak spots.  Whenever a throw went the wrong direction, my first line of defense was, “You have to be ready for those.” rather than, “Sorry, your old man is not the throwing phenomenon he used to be.”  She was understanding…even if she did have to visit the ditch/creek more than she would have liked.  (Throwing a wet ball is good practice!)

Although she does have pretty good control, I did have to field a few grounders.  These grounders were mostly happy little balls that found my glove with barely an invitation.  Not all of the balls were happy.  A couple balls, one specifically, were very vindictive.  It refused my gloves embrace and launched itself at my exposed shin. Not wanting to make my daughter feel bad, I uttered a brave, “It’s okay.” and we played on.

It was early the next day when I felt the aching right arm.  Amazingly, my mind tried to go through a list of other possible deliverers of pain before remembering the neon green ball from the previous day.  Likely, since it had been close to a year since I had thrown a ball and I was throwing it differently to compensate for my snow blower injury, my pain was only reminiscent of the usual pain.  When the pain left in a couple of days, the source was confirmed.

The shin injury has been a different matter.  It seemed to take a little longer for the pain to more fully ripen.  What started as a dull ache is now 6 inches of very sensitive leg starting below my knee.  I have researched shin splints and entertained ideas of impending amputations.  (I am reading a book with an amputee in it right now.)  Despite my pessimistic optimism, the winner seems to be a bone bruise-the most painful shin bruise in recent memory, but just a bruise.

However, with my history of a couple of blood clots, my ultra-pessimism, “I don’t want my kids to be orphans” thinking kicked in.  After a week of the non-diminishing leg pain, my wife hauled me to one of the “quickie” emergency room places.  (It was my insistence that got us there.  She was laughing and teasing me up until the point where the doctor mentioned how swollen and how much it probably hurt.)  The doctor checked all of my pulses to remove any clotting concerns. While I was relieved, my wife took the opportunity to get a couple more paranoid jabs in.  We were home in about an hour.  We paid no bill while there.  The cost for my peace of mind would be coming in the mail….

So, as I walk, stand or get dressed, I just smile.  I assume the pain is temporary. (It was….this was nearly a month ago.)  What is not temporary is the quality time I had with my daughter!  To see her non-complaining run after one of my bad throws (well, she may have missed a couple of good throws) or to hear, “I am sorry.” after one of her bad throws, are times to cherish.  I don’t remember really talking about anything.  And, it is those moments with your daughters that mean everything.

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