Something soul satisfying about the simplicity of having a catch - not to be confused with playing catch.
Playing has taken on the connotation of effort, expectation and performance. Playing ball - playing piano, playing a part - conjures images of winners and losers, judgments and earning accolades. The concept of having a catch quivered my heart while re-watching "Field of Dreams." Ray Kinsella's life had a hole as big as a ballfield for refusing to simply have a catch with his father. My father was a master at having a catch - in one way or another.
Grandparents have been turned into groupies and high-speed-fiber-optic camp followers as they sprint from each event, game and performance in order to participate in their grandkids' lives. Swim meets; dance performances; chess playoffs; karate tournaments; music lessons and/or recitals; soccer games; uptown; downtown; all around the town - this is what "getting to know the grandkids" feels like to me.
My life as my dad's daughter was different. Daddy was an attorney with a deep respect for knowledge. He was long and lanky with an air of expecting something fun to happen. He loved golf and was lousy at it. He loved to dance and was good at it.
My daddy wasn't much of a ball player. He and I would have a catch in his fashion. He would hustle me into the Olds to park and watch airplanes take off at the little airport in Van Nuys, a suburb of Los Angeles. "Who wants to go with me to Western Bagel?" he'd call jiggling keys. I was first to make the door. "I'm picking up burgers at Dupar's, who wants to take a drive?" Me, me, me! He'd throw his clubs in the backseat to take me to "hit a bucket of balls" at the driving range. Daddy would buy me my own bucket. His hands would place mine on the grip then he'd position himself on his own swatch of turf to swing through his own bucket. "Keep your eye on the ball," was all he'd offer. No lessons, just a smile when I managed to actually hit the ball.
He, my sister and I would pile onto the huge chaise lounge on summer nights to hunt the sky for shooting stars. We'd sit with the dogs on the top step of our patio like birds on a wire and watch the Rainbird sprinklers shower the backyard. He taught me to cha cha and to scan the bookshelf to see the subjects that were of interest to him. He took me to our polling place on election night so I could help tally who had voted. No preaching or civic lessons - just showed me how to mark off the names.
Best of all, he would unfold his long arms and legs in my wading pool (the framed kind that became clammy and murky with dead bugs by morning) to cool off in the desert heat of the San Fernando Valley. He looked like a crab flailing on its back, but with a full tonsil smile.
I don't recall deep conversations riddled with lessons or scripted meaning. No "alert the media" reports after the activity. (How did I ever not become a slinking mass murderer without my every move being broadcast on Facebook or yard signs?)
Ray and his father finally have their catch in the denouement of "Field of Dreams." It's a movie - so no matter that John Kinsella, Ray's dad, was long dead. But, Ray realized through his own yearning that his dad just wanted to share some time with his son. The quiet passing of the ball was conversation enough.
Yeah, yeah, the world of parenting and grandparenting has changed. We may need to race to keep up with the grandkids' activities in order to watch them grow and be a part of their warp-speed lives. But, I plan to be a hold out - the weird, oddball Cece who wants to share non-achieving, unorganized time. I am willing to parry the questioning eyebrows for not joining the chorus of grandkid-fawners over every (well earned, I might add) success. I will continue to attempt to get to know them as people, not as mini-conquerors of activities. I will tell them I am proud of them and love them even if they come in last (because they all try so hard). I have found it difficult to catch up with them as they scramble up their ladders of success, but I'll keep trying to toss the ball.
Thank you, Daddy, for your time with me - for the monumentally zero importance of the "daddy-daughter" events we had together. You showed me how to have a catch - even as a gangly crab in a wading pool.
Michael Ram, January 31, 1914 - April 28, 1990.
Candace Wade wrote the book "Horse Sluts - The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw." She has contributed to Horse Nation, Mature Lifestyles, Riding and Writing, The Tennessean and is a member of American Horse Publications. Candace writes political diatribe, wrote "Hillary's View" pet column and four unpublished film scripts. She learned to ride at age 46 and still rides at 59+.