Monday, 16 July 2012

Baseball Weekend

I'm discovering that it is good to sometimes look back and compare what I'm able to do now compared to what I was able to do 6 to 8 weeks ago.  In making these comparisons, I'm able to see how much stronger I'm getting each week.  Even this last sentence is an example of how my body is recovering from 5 months of chemotherapy earlier this year.  I used to have to compare what I could do each day.  I'm now comparing what I can do each week.  This brings to mind my mantra during the time that I was undergoing chemotherapy.  I had to often repeat to myself "one breath at a time, on moment at a time, one step at a time".  I'm definitely at the "one step at a time" and beyond! Four weeks ago, there is no way I was able to go away for a 2 day trip.  I was too weak and the travelling would have taken too much out of me.  This past weekend, I went away on a whirlwind trip to watch my son play baseball.  As always, we also included some family time which made it extra special.

We left on Saturday morning around 7:30 to drive 2 hours so our son could make it to a baseball field in Toronto.  The sun was shining fully and the air was hot and humid.  With the humidity in the air, the temperature felt like 36 degrees Celcius.  Thank goodness there was a slight breeze to help keep it bearable.  The team played a double header (2 games) that afternoon.  The routine is we set up our lawn chairs or sit on the bleachers.  Out comes the sunscreen and it is slopped on.  I have always had to wear sunscreen as I'm very fair haired and fair skinned.  This year it is especially important as I am even more susceptible to the sun after chemotherapy.  So after slopping on the sunscreen, my wide-brimmed hat goes on too.  One thing about having a brush cut at the moment while my hair grows back, is that it is very cool.  Unfortunately, my wide-brimmed hat traps my body heat in and makes me even hotter.  So out came my extra wide golf umbrella to provide me with shade as there is no shade on the visitor's side of the diamond.  Now I was set to sit back and enjoy the game.

My daughter, who doesn't like baseball but came along with us for the weekend, decided to sit on the opposing team's side of the ballfield where there were lots of trees and shade.  She boldly and confidently walked over and set up her chair in the shade.  Normally, she will just put in her earphones and listen to her Ipod or read a book during the baseball games so I had no concerns of her being in "enemy territory" during the games.  Between the games, she came over to see me and admitted that she actually watched the game!  Not only did she watch the game, she clapped and cheered for her brother's team!  She mentioned that she received many dirty looks from the home team parents who were sitting near and around her.  In the second game, she returned to her spot and continued to watch, cheer and clap for her brother's team.  Myself, I enjoyed watching the game.  I was sitting behind the backstop so that I could get a full view of the field as I watched the game.  Unfortunately, this meant that as plays happened at home plate or a ball got past the catcher, I was caught in the clouds of dust that would drift through the backstop, envelope me and move on past to the swampy, reedy area behind me.  When this happened, I would just close my eyes so I wouldn't get any dust in my eyes.

That was Saturday.  After the games finished, we packed up our lawn chairs, cooler and my umbrella and loaded up the van.  The team lost both games but this was against the first place team and apparently our son's team kept the scores closer than most of the other teams.  We continued on our way to our "hotel".  We have discovered that it is cheaper to stay at a college residence during the summer and still have some of the amenities of a hotel.  These stays always include a continental breakfast and there is often a "common" area that parents and players can congregate in for an enjoyable evening of conversation, cards, games or whatever.  This time we stayed at Centennial College where there was also an indoor pool.  Needless to say, the ball players all hit their individual showers first.  This was followed by family members.  I had forgotten how sunscreen acts like glue for the baseball infield  red dust.  The water in the bottom of the shower just flowed that same colour!

An evening of pizza and conversation with other parents ensued.  I tried to stay up but my mind and body had other ideas and I was sound asleep by 10:30.  We were up and had to be at another ball park in the Toronto area by 10 a.m.  The weather had been forecasting another hot, humid day but also with rain and thunderstorms.  When we checked out of the "hotel", it was sunny, very hot and very humid.  The boys had another double header scheduled for the day.  We also have very close family friends who live in Toronto and it has become an annual event for them to watch a game and then we go for dinner, a visit and sometimes a walk before we would get back on the road and head home.  Yesterday was no different and we had plans to have them meet us at the ballfield for the second game of the double header.

The first game was played under clear blue skies in a temperature that felt close to 40 degrees Celcius due to the humidity.  Players were struggling to keep cool and both players and spectators were drinking lots and lots of water!  We watched our son as a relief pitcher and he had a good outing.  They won the game 10-0.  Between games there is always a short time to allow the players to cool down and eat some lunch.  We rushed out and picked up some subs and brought them back to the field for our lunches.  While we were eating, we could see a very large, dark, ominous cloud to the west of us.  The players, coaches and parents kept a close eye on it as it continued to move slowly towards us.  The umpires arrived for the second game and also joined the rest of us in watching the sky start to darken.  Then the wind picked up which was nice as it was very hot and humid and the wind provided us with some relief.  The cloud was so threatening, that my husband and daughter packed up the cooler and the lawn chairs and returned them to our van.  Our daughter chose to stay in the van.  Just as my husband returned from the parking lot, the first spritz of rain started to fall.  I put up my big umbrella and my husband put up his which he had grabbed from the van.  The wind picked up some more, the temperature plummeted and the rain began in earnest.  The team scrambled to put all their ball bags under the canopy that the coaches had erected and they all stood underneath to stay dry.  Lightning started to shoot from the sky in the distance to the west and the north.  It was still a fair distance away but we were definitely getting the rain.  My husband had been in contact  with our family friends who had forewarned us that the system was coming.  It had hit their area of the city about 30 minutes before reaching us.  As the storm was getting closer, I decided to make my way to the van.  The wind was so strong that my umbrella was used as a shield in front of me to keep the driving rain from soaking me.  As I walked across a soccer field to get to the van, I saw flashes of lightning and thunder close behind it.  I was a little nervous!!  I made it to the van and even managed to keep myself fairly dry!  Not even 5 minutes later, I saw the home team coaches and players running for their vehicles.  The second game was cancelled due to weather and will be rescheduled.  My husband and son arrived in the van and off we went to go to our friends' home.

On route to our friends' home, the rain stopped and the sky brightened.  We got to their condo and parked the van.  As my son got out, I heard him say "We better make a run for it!"  I jumped out of the van and started running for the front door of the condo.  Then I heard "Cathy, stop!!  I need your purse...your car keys!".  Now it was raining in earnest.  I stopped and opened my purse to get my car keys as my husband had locked his keys inside the van.  In just that moment of stopping to get my keys, I was soaked!  My purse was soaked!  My sandals were soaked and then they become very slippery.  So I can't run anymore or else I'll fall.  My husband flies past me and says "Run!!".  I couldn't run and I was already soaked to the skin.  I walked as fast as was safely possible but by the time I made it into the entrance of the condo I was literally soaked, dripping and looking like a drowned rat!  We made our way up to our friends' condo.  As we walked off the elevator, my husband said to me "What's that sound?!"  I stopped walking and replied "What sound?"  It ended up being the squishing of the water in my sandals.  They were so wet that every time I took a step, you could hear and see the water squishing out of the insides of my sandals!  Our friends' welcomed us into their home and provided my husband and me with towels, sweatshirts, t-shirts and trackpants while they dried our clothes in the dryer.  Our children were dry as they had made it into the condo entrance before the deluge of rain had hit.

While we dried out, we enjoyed a wonderful visit and listened to our daughter play the piano.  When our clothes were dry, we got dressed and went out for dinner.  We continued our conversations over dinner and then decided to head back to the condo for more visiting.  Once we were back at the condo, out came more piano music for us to play and also the picture albums appeared containing pictures of my husband and one of our friends as little children.  As we looked through the pictures, you could see my husband and his brother grow up to teenagers and young adults.  Then you saw the addition of myself and my sister-in-law as we became part of the family.  It was so nice to see the pictures and have them bring back memories.  There were even pictures of our children when they were toddlers and preschoolers!  Our daughter was looking at the pictures and commented on liking the dress our friend was wearing in one of them.  Off went our friend and out comes the dress!  My daughter tried it on and it looked fantastic on her!  Out came another dress for her to try on and it, too, looked really good.  So our friend gave my daughter the dresses to keep.

This was the first time that I'd seen these friends since being diagnosed with lymphoma and going through chemotherapy.  These friends are more like family than friends!  I had talked with them on the phone and they had followed along in the blog but it was just so nice to see them in person.  The depth of love and warmth that I feel when I see family and friends for the first time since having lymphoma is overwhelming.  I am filled with a sudden flow of warmth and strong emotions.  This is because life is so unpredictable and the possibility was there that I might never have seen them again.  I'm getting stronger now and I've survived my two days away.

I love when I can combine a normal activity such as baseball with nuclear family time and extended family time.  This weekend I realized that our nuclear family time is also going to be more rare.  This was our last weekend away for baseball ever.  We've been doing this for ten years!!  I'm glad that we were able to finish it off with our full family involved.

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