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The Suburbanite
  • We just need a little reminder every now and then

  • We all fall into the trap from time to time.

    Our knees creak, our burdens seem too numerous and heavy to carry and/or we’re tired, feel over-worked and under-appreciated. We get crabby, and then we complain.

    We may not even complain out loud, but we do so silently — to ourselves — as if that makes it any better.

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  • We all fall into the trap from time to time.
    Our knees creak, our burdens seem too numerous and heavy to carry and/or we’re tired, feel over-worked and under-appreciated. We get crabby, and then we complain.
    We may not even complain out loud, but we do so silently — to ourselves — as if that makes it any better.
    But it’s like former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz once said at a speaking engagement in Akron years ago: “It’s no use telling anyone about your problems. Ninety percent of the people don’t care, and the other 10 percent are glad you have them.”
    And there’s a lot of truth to that.
    We just need a little reminder every now and then.
    And I got one recently, which let me know that The Man Upstairs is listening and took the time to show me the answer if I was willing to open my eyes and see it.
    In fact, the answer came in a variety of ways so that I couldn’t miss it.
    When I showed up at Canal Park in downtown Akron to work the gate for an Akron Aeros game, I had no idea that it was Challenger Day at the ballpark. The 15th annual event, for children and adults with special needs, was held by Northeast Ohio Roy Hobbs Baseball and the club.
    I had seen Challenger Baseball before and had a great appreciation for it. But for some reason I couldn’t explain at the time, I never watched it with as much focus — or appreciation — as I did that day. The action mesmerized me. It spoke to me.
    And I listened to every word.
    One after another, the Challenger players marched toward home plate, stood in the batter’s box, hit the ball somewhere in the grass portion of the infield and then ran toward first base as if their life depended on it.
    And maybe it did in terms of what the experience meant to them.
    One player in a motorized wheelchair took a swing with one hand — one hand! –  poked the ball toward third base and then, ducking his head like a race-car driver as he stared at the route, pushed the pedal to the metal to get to first base ASAP.
    No batter was ever out.
    Every single one of them eventually came around to score.
    And all the while, their exploits were being shown on the big new scoreboard in right field as they also were being described by a young woman serving as the public address announcer.
    The players enjoyed it immensely.
    The parents and members of Roy Hobbs Baseball enjoyed it even more.
    Page 2 of 3 - However, the guy working the gate enjoyed it the most.
    The game finally ended. Lesson learned.
    Indeed, if all those Challenger players and parents weren’t moaning about the state of things in their lives, how could I? They have issues. I don’t have any.
    But wait, there’s more.
    Challenger players who weren’t part of of the game but still wanted to sit in the ballpark with their teammates and watch the Aeros play, then started coming through the gate. They had their ball caps on and they were carrying their gloves, some holding them in their laps as their wheelchair was maneuvered around the turnstile. Maybe a foul ball would come their way.
    They all had big smiles on their faces. They couldn’t wait to get there.
    And their parents were all too happy to bring them.
    Again, lesson learned.
    But wait, there’s more.
    The gate I was working is close to the Akron Children’s Hospital complex. After the last paying customer had entered the park, a woman with her hair tied back bolted across the bridge and toward the gate.
    “My husband is here watching the game, but I don’t know where he is ,” she said. “Could I just come in for a minute to see if I can find him?”
    “Sure, go on in,” I said.
    When she came back through a little later, I asked her if she had found her husband.
    “No, but he’ll come back after a while,” she said. “We’re here in town with our family. Our grandchild is in the hospital. She’s pretty sick.”
    And as the woman spoke, she was smiling and had a calm, contented look on her face, as if she didn’t have a care in the world.
    Another lesson learned.
    But wait, there’s more.
    About an inning later, a young couple pushing a wheelchair with a young boy in it, and with another child walking along with them, approached.
    “Can we still get tickets?” the woman asked.
    “No, I’m sorry,” I said. “They just closed this window for the day, and there’s no easy way to get from here around front to the main ticket window that’s still open.”
    This woman, just as calm, cool and collected as the other woman, looked at me and said, “Could we just stand in the concourse, behind one of the sections, and watch a little bit of the game? Our son’s in the hospital, and we’re just trying to get him some fresh air for a couple minutes before we have to take him back.”
    Page 3 of 3 - “Absolutely, go right in,” I said. “By the way, what’s wrong with him?”
    The woman said with a pleasant, reassuring smile, “He’s got tremendous swelling on the brain.”
    Yet another lesson learned.