“This is where Dad wanted to be!” I called the fourteen of us into a huddle around the pitcher’s mound at Old Yankee Stadium in April 2019.
“Not up at the family headstone in Torrington. So, today we honor his wish.”
My sister opened one of the sandwich bags of ashes I had given out to my three sibs and spread a copious amount of Dad on the pitcher ‘s mound. He had tried out for pitcher when he was 19 years old right there on that spot now dotted with gray. Though Dad didn’t make the team back in 1961, we’d always been impressed that he at least tried out. Because of this, our entire family has always been and will always be Yankee fans.
I quickly looked around the faces of my sibs, our significant others, our children, and nieces the huddle. It was a bit of a miracle that all of us actually got our acts together and converged more or less on time, without any real jangled nerves or bs.
We four had such a long, painful history of not getting along. So much to had to due to our parents’ ugly marriage and divorce. There was Dad’s 26 years of wandering and then managing him the last 14 years of his life as his conservator caused lots of stress.
Yet, when Dad died a week before Thanksgiving I noticed that for the time being, at least, something clicked for the good in his four children. I like to believe Dad had asked God on his way to Heaven, or maybe when he got there, to “Please heal my four kids’ relationships,” I hoped it would last.
But now there we were in the huddle. I asked to my younger brother to give the next instructions to the clan. As the eldest of the four sibs, my role has often as the leader, or in some rougher terms “The Boss.” Yes, I planned the details of this trip, toted Dad’s ashes in my backpack on the train, and I made the pins of dad we all were wearing. Someone else could share in leading.
Andy announced that each of us take our bags to various parts of the field. Someone would tell when it was exactly 12 noon and we would then release Dad at the same time.
Giddy and thrumming with anticipation (and also feeling a little like we were being naughty kids), the four of us took various positions in the outfield. My two adult children and I skipped to left field.
My husband stayed at home plate looking at timer on his cellphone. “Ready, one minute.” Then, “Ten seconds. Then, “Three, two, one.”
I opened the zip lock top of the baggie and spun around scattering Dad like I was a twirling ten year old. My two children stood back, laughing. “Go, Dad!” I said.
I glanced over at my brothers, in center and right field. They seemed to be smiling with their families. My sister ran into the infield and sprinkled what she had left in her bag on each of the plates.
Spontaneously, our whole group amassed together just beyond first plate and I passed around York Peppermint Patties, Dad’s ultimate favorite candy. We held them up making a toast, “To Dad.”
After that, with a bolt of energy, I hustled over to home plate. Pretending to hit an imaginary baseball, I ran, well, jogged actually, to first base, then to second, on to third. When I finally rounded to home, I stomped on the plate and threw up my arms in victory.