Niagara Gazette

June 15, 2013

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Forging a few fatherly memories

By Doug and Polly Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Families — We’re going out tonight for Father’s Day. Doug prefers to dodge the throngs of what he calls “artificial holidays.” Anyway, he’s had enough Father’s Day already to last the whole year.

Back in April, Joe called from Pennsylvania, where he inflicts English on high schoolers and movie reviews on readers of the local Sun-Gazette. He wondered if we could somehow get together to see the Jackie Robinson movie “42” on its Opening Day. (Among baseballholics, Opening Day of anything merits capital letters.)

To make a long story short (too late), we met in Geneseo, about midway, watched the movie for about $5, had a great mid-afternoon mishmash of lunch and dinner and went our separate ways, both facing mid-evening deadlines. Newly minted Gazette Sports Editor Michael Mroziak had granted Doug an extra hour and Doug was eager to reward Mike for his risk.

All the Smiths remarked on the special joy of father and son doing the same task, as equals.

In years past Doug’s church softball team had an all-Rodriquez infield of a father and two sons — how he envied their camaraderie. Now, the day’s events had all the satisfaction of a father-to-son double play.

Day before yesterday Doug got an email from a soldier in Afghanistan applauding the review, citing specifics. Every phrase the warrior saluted had been one Doug had constructed specifically with the intention of impressing Joe. Fathers and sons together. Priceless.

Then in May we were visiting Holly, whose son Clark had a ballgame. “I didn’t ask you about this,” Holly said as Clark and Doug departed for warmups, “but they really don’t have anybody who knows how to keep score, and I suggested you might help.”

That’s like asking the Pope to lead prayers. Clark’s team was short a player and the other side won 22-9, but when Doug realized he was able to put the little dot (.) next to Clark’s name, indicating that he’d batted in a run, he could feel his heart leap. Next time up, another dot. Is there a cardiologist in the house?

By this time Polly and Holly had arrived. The coach’s wife told Holly, “Your father is having way too much fun.”

Doug got to thinking about all this Wednesday while golfing with a fellow who never played with his father, “only caddied,” he said. Doug didn’t either, but that was a function of his Dad’s being called up at 56. It’s why he tries to cherish, with some regret, every moment he has that his Dad didn’t. Pardon our judgment, but dinner with Dad tomorrow can’t compare to the moment you share as equals some unspecial time when nobody’s watching.

Come visit. Bring Dad.

Polly and Doug E-mail pollyndoug@hotmail.com