Carol, Goodbye

There we were – my wife Sandy and I – zooming westward along the Pennsylvania Turnpike two Fridays ago. We were on our way to Ohio, its Cleveland area, for a reunion of some members of Sandy’s side of the family. We see a few folks from her clan regularly, but not so for the others. The occasion promised to be a somewhat reflective one, in that it was a gathering in honor of Carol, one of Sandy’s and my cousins who, in her mid-60s, died several months ago in Arkansas. There, for decades, she had made her home with her husband Mike. Carol’s brother lives with his wife near Cleveland, and it was said brother and his spouse, Steve and Carolyn, who organized the celebration of Carol’s life.

The gathering turned out to be wonderful. Thirteen folks, including Sandy and I, made up the group. Everyone was glad to be with one another. Lots of hugs and kisses were exchanged during the three days we were together. Lots of good food was consumed. Happy chitchat glided effortlessly through the air. And on Saturday, in memory of Carol, we all piled into our motor vehicles and drove to downtown Cleveland to attend a Cleveland Indians baseball game, the signature event of the family members’ weekend.

When it comes to Carol, only one thing could have been more appropriate than our visiting the Indians, and that would have been our attendance at a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. Carol, as big a baseball fan as I’ve ever known, grew up in the Philadelphia region and at an early age became infatuated with the Phillies. That infatuation gripped her for the rest of her life. But through her brother, another baseball aficionado, she came to love the Indians too. During visits to Steve and Carolyn over the years she went to a good number of Indians games. If only she could have been with all of us that recent Saturday. In her element, she’d have had a blast.

45 minutes before game time
45 minutes before game time

I was pretty well stunned by the beauty of Cleveland’s  stadium, Progressive Field, when it came into view moments after I walked out of the parking garage. Intimate, with narrow outfield foul territory areas, it was modestly populated at 3:30 PM, forty-five minutes before game time. Hordes of fans soon would arrive. The outfield grasses, green as can be and meticulously groomed, looked magnificent. The enormous scoreboard flashed excitedly with bright-colored messages. With no rain in sight, the day held much promise.

Steve and Carolyn had gone whole hog by renting a suite for the family. I’d never been in a baseball suite before, and, you know, I have to say that it ain’t a bad way to go. A guy could get used to it. There was a buffet area within the room, a frig stocked with beer and a big screen TV for those who chose to watch the game artificially. And, best of all, a clean bathroom.

Photo taken from within the suite

And there was a door that led out to the open air, to a balcony of sorts that held a dozen chairs. The suite was halfway down the third baseline, and from the balcony the view of the game was fine. As were its sounds. I was amazed by the high decibel level of pitched balls crashing into catchers’ mitts. Man, pitchers these days throw hard. Harder, I think, than ever before. Boom, boom, boom, indeed.

Shadows enter the infield!
Shadows dominate the infield!

Well, the game passed pleasantly, though the final outcome wasn’t favored by Cleveland rooters, the Minnesota Twins winning the battle by the score of four runs to two. Like most of the family members I paid only half-attention to the game, spending much of the time wandering into the suite for food and beverage or talking about this or that with one person or another. Or fixating on the heavy, menacing shadows that began to cover the infield midway through the proceedings. How a batter can see a ball well enough to hit it under those shadowy conditions is way beyond myopic me. Carol, though, would have watched the action on the field with an eagle eye. You have to if you’re going to document the step-by-step developments throughout a game on a scorecard, something that few people know how or would want to do. Carol, though, knew how, and did. She was a true lover of the game.

Now, there was much more to Carol’s life than baseball. She was someone of wide mind and interests. But baseball is what many of us who knew her think of when we think of Carol. I mean, in Arkansas she subscribed to a special major league baseball television channel so that she could watch Phillies games. And at family gatherings it wasn’t unusual for her to be wearing a Phillies jersey.

It was fitting, therefore, that a few hours after the game ended, back at Carolyn’s and Steve’s home, everyone adjourned to a large room in which a piano resided. Steve and Carolyn possess excellent musical talent. And Mike, though not in their class music-wise, is a free-spirited singer, liable to burst into song at any given moment. Carolyn sat down at the piano and Steve placed his violin on his shoulder. Their young-adult son, also in possession of musical gifts, picked up a violin too. Next thing you knew a most rousing version of Take Me Out To The Ball game was under way, Carolyn hitting the keys hard and exuberantly, Mike singing with startling gusto and the two violinists fiddling away like their lives depended on it. Everyone else in the room was singing or humming along, and when the song reached its conclusion they burst into loud applause. It was by far the best rendition of Take Me Out To The Ball Game that I’ve ever heard.

Another good person has left the planet. Carol, goodbye. We miss you.

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46 thoughts on “Carol, Goodbye

  1. esmeejayne July 6, 2017 / 1:59 am

    Such a beautiful story and a lovely way to honour Carol. There is nothing like family.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The Artist's Child July 6, 2017 / 4:48 am

    Lovely post. Sunny days, great memories and family traditions. That’s the way to remember a loved one. Terrific stadium. I can see why baseball is so popular in your country.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. joyce hamilton July 6, 2017 / 8:00 am

    Happy to hear it was a beautiful and fun reunion honoring Carol.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sniderjerry July 6, 2017 / 8:41 am

    Hello Neil, A wonderful story – and I’m sure Carol also enjoyed the day too. Peace and love to you and your family. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lexklein July 6, 2017 / 9:23 am

    We head to Cleveland ourselves next weekend to honor my mother-in-law, who died recently, and the Indians will also figure in our plans. She and my father-in-law (and my husband) were/are huge Tribe fans, and there may or may not be a few ashes sprinkled near the stadium! I’m glad Carol’s life was remembered in such an enjoyable way by your family. Very touching post.

    Now, baseball … I’ve had the good luck to attend games a few times in those suites and it’s amazing! I must finish by saying your entire family has your loyalties wrong, though – I grew up in between your teams geographically and can proudly state that my Pirates have more World Series championships than the Phillies and Indians combined! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 6, 2017 / 1:33 pm

      Hi Lexie. Sorry to hear about your loss. It’s quite something that both your family and mine partly honor the deceased via baseball.

      You know, I used to like the Steelers a lot, back in the days of Bradshaw et al, but I never cared much for the Pirates.

      Take care —

      Liked by 1 person

  6. hairytoegardener July 6, 2017 / 12:08 pm

    What a great tribute to Carol’s life. I think this special kind of family gathering makes such a difference to everyone involved. Have only been in a baseball suite once, but it was great.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Alyson July 6, 2017 / 1:09 pm

    What a lovely way to remember Carol – taken far too young by the sound of it. You will never hear that song again without thinking of that very special rendition and of course of the lady herself.

    No baseball where I come from but it seems to be a mix of our cricket and the game of rounders, on a much much bigger scale.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 6, 2017 / 1:39 pm

      Hi Alyson. Thanks for visiting.
      Baseball is the most intriguing sport of those that I know about. The variables are near endless, which means that plays you’ve never seen before sometimes occur.

      Like

  8. C C Cedras July 6, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    A sweet and poignant post. What a joyful way to celebrate Carol’s life and loves!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Aunt Beulah July 6, 2017 / 4:55 pm

    I can’t think of a better memorial for your cousin. She sounds like a grand person with lots of folks who miss her. The singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame was a grand finale indeed. I particularly enjoyed your description of “Mike singing with startling gusto,” because that’s how the song should be sung.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 6, 2017 / 6:18 pm

      That song dates back to the early years of Major League baseball. It’s amazing to me how it has endured.

      Enjoy the evening, Janet. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Cindy July 6, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    For your family to celebrate a loved one’s life like that–and for you to write about it–is such a meaningful tribute. Your words are thought-provoking, too: in what way would we want our own lives to be celebrated?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. greenpete58 July 7, 2017 / 11:37 am

    Nice tribute to your cousin, Neil. I’ve been to “The Jake” (I still call it by its old name) a few times. Was a big Indians fan in the mid-90s. They love their sports up in Cleveland. Just wish the Tribe could win a World Series!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. cincinnatibabyhead July 7, 2017 / 1:32 pm

    It always ends up with a musical twist with your takes. Fantastic. Great piece. That was CB over in the cheap seats enjoying some of the more refined cuisine at the game.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. K E Garland July 7, 2017 / 2:34 pm

    What a nice tribute to someone’s life. This is how I wish all of life’s endings were.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. andrewcferguson July 7, 2017 / 5:26 pm

    Super post, Neil. I think if I lived inthe States I’d have to follow baseball – it’s the closest to cricket you poor chaps have got.

    Liked by 1 person

      • andrewcferguson July 8, 2017 / 2:25 am

        Yep, smallish numbers! I think there would be more if they televised it over here, the same way they did with American Football (as we call it) a few years ago

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Sheila July 10, 2017 / 12:46 pm

    Great idea – and a wonderful way to celebrate life and family. It looks like you had the perfect day for it too. I’ve always loved baseball but the Tigers are my favorite (the ultimate underdogs).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 10, 2017 / 2:00 pm

      Hi Sheila. Thanks very much for stopping by. My home team, the Phillies, have had a horrible year so far. They have the worst record in all of baseball. The Tigers aren’t too good this season, but they’re terrific compared to the Phils!

      Like

  16. Cindy Frank July 10, 2017 / 7:56 pm

    One of your best, I think, Neal. A wonderful tribute to Carol and to the power of family.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. America On Coffee July 15, 2017 / 3:50 am

    It is always so pleasant to read your posts. You make everyone feel like family. Thru memories wuth Carol and so many others, love never dies!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 15, 2017 / 7:00 am

      Hi AOC. Thanks a lot for the compliment. Reading your comments was a good way for me to start the morning.

      Like

      • America On Coffee July 15, 2017 / 2:48 pm

        You are so welcome!! Your writings are enjoyable and are always from an interesting perspective. Wishing you a wonderful weekend!!

        Liked by 1 person

  18. viewfromoverthehill July 31, 2017 / 10:42 pm

    Interesting Neil: Yesterday I attended a Celebration of Life for a friend I recently lost. Although I didn’t hear any talk of baseball, I did learn about all the different facets of my late friend Carla, who was involved and actively engaged in so many things. It, too, was a beautiful event, with much love and laughter and music. Nice. I liked this post. Cheers, Muriel

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 31, 2017 / 11:24 pm

      Hello, Muriel.

      I wonder if standard funerals are losing ground to alternative ways of saying goodbye. Maybe so.

      Like

  19. dweezer19 August 6, 2017 / 10:08 pm

    What a lovely tribute to your friend. Baseball is so hard not to love. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger August 6, 2017 / 11:12 pm

      Hello Cheryl, and thanks very much for taking the time to add your thoughts. I appreciate it a lot.

      Like

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