How is he talking to me and he looks like himself and his hands move like himself and I’ve sat in this chair across from him a million times while he sat in that chair across from me a million times? Now all his words in their order make no sense like cut up, strung up and mismatched pieces of fabric. I’m trying to smile on the outside and I’m praying he can’t tell that I’m screaming and crying on the inside.
I’m in awe, and it’s not in the fireworks way, or being at Disney way, or a nurse handing one of my babies in my arms for the first time sort of way. That’s all awe filled with joy.
Tonight he couldn’t tell me very importantly what he very importantly wanted to tell me. That’s awe filled with sad.
Falling asleep, broken heart. Scrunch tears and think of years ago, walking on a beach where he pulled me out of the water, laughed loud, called me “twinkle toes”, skipped a rock and bent down to hold my hand.
The Chicago cubs organization just ripped the heart out of the Cubbies.
I grew up sitting in the 11th row behind the visitor’s dugout. Seats 5, 6, 7 and 8. It used to be the 10th row, but they added another row and we moved with it. My dad first got the tickets in 1971. Near the end, I could hardly get to a game because of kids and life. The last few years, my dad’s health prevented him from being able to maneuver through the crowds to get to the seats.
I remember entering the park as a girl, running behind him, looking up at the back of his head, reaching out to grab his shirt, while he masterfully serpentined between the crowds of people. He would turn back and smile his golden smile to me to make sure I was keeping up. We’d stop just for a quick second to get a scorecard and he’d get a beer (Later on, one for me too). We loved our seats. We had all the chances to move aisles closer to the field, but we loved being able to just jump over and fall into ours. Easy in, easy out. Perfect for raising a hand to buy a Home Run Hot Dogs and Budweisers.
In my early 20’s, while I was attending my fourth and last college, I rented an apartment on Broadway one block south of Addison. It was kind of a dump and it was next to The Jewel and that SUCKED during Christmas season because those damn Salvation Army bells would ring all the freaking time. But I was so close to Wrigley. My dad was a commodities trader at the Board of Trade and he was off work at 1:30pm. On game days, he would sneak out a bit early and hop in a cab. I would ride my bike, walk or rollerblade over to the park and meet him at The Cubby Bear. We bought the peanuts outside because they tasted better. He’d hand me my ticket and we’d start the mad dash. Even going to the games as an adult, I still felt the rush…I still always wanted to reach out and grab his shirt. Sitting there watching the game was our catch-up time, it was relaxing and it just felt like home.
Sometimes I would take the train in with my mom and we would go Cubbie nuts. My mom is still a die-heart fan, too. She was raised a Sox fan, but we don’t hold that against her. (So was my husband and his family is not happy.) We really had the best of times through the years. Our favorite thing to do after the game was to go to the Wild Hare and get our reggae on…so many laughs. Those were the party party days. We were always meeting new people and chatting up our “seat neighbors.” Some we knew for over 30 years. They saw us grow up. They saw us bring all of our babies there for the first time. They saw the last days of dad being there.
My kids were raised in the red, white and blue. They didn’t know anything else. They all went to the the park as babies and they all had their personal Cubbie adventures. Being a Cubs fan has been a big part of who they are today.
Every opening day, my brother and I would trade off going with Dad. Some days were filled with freezing rain, some were sunny and beautiful, but they were always perfect. The timeline of the day, the routine, the songs, the stretch, it was all so comforting like a bug warm hug. I will cherish those days forever.
Of course, I fell in love all the time. My first boyfriend was Billy Buckner. He was a dashing hero to me. My dad is the kinda guy who knew everyone and somehow he finagled us having an official “Donaldson Day” at Wrigley. We were able to go on the field, lay against the Ivy, see the locker rooms. I sat in the dugout on Ivan Dejesus’ lap. Hell yes, I did. Oh, and this happened.
My dad did this Randy Huntley fantasy baseball camp and it was pretty darn cool. He was able to play alongside Ryno, Durham, Jody Davis, Fergie, Lee Smith…It was a total dream come true for him and it was cool to watch. Years later, my brother did the same….
Years later, my brother did a cool thing for my dad. Let’s the face it. THE.COOLEST. THING. Jim Donaldson day.
As we got older and started our families, it was harder to see my brother and his family. He and his wife lived a block away from the park on Sheffield and could hear the crack of the bats through his open windows. Wow. He was able to still go to the games all the time and I know that was another dream for him fulfilled. It was always fun to go to the games with him and catch up….always a beautiful bonding experience with him at the park.
I did marry a sox fan, as I mentioned before, but I would like to formally thank the Cubs for helping me woo him. Wrigley with my family was a great way to get him to marry me. We have flirted there many times at the park over the years.
And oh my word, THE FOOD. If you go old school, there is nothing like a Home Run hot dog from a park vendor…mustard only. Second place for me is a dog from inside with grilled onions. Great link HERE for the park food. We loved going to the Club before the games, during a rain storm or when it was just too damn HOT.
The Friendly Confines have changed. First it was cool things like the statues…Captain Morgan expansion was interesting…they fancied up the bleachers…Gallagher Park was a cool addition. Then they started to replace the premiere seating. Finally, they were ready to upgrade our box. And they changed the ticket prices to obviously separate the wheat from the chaff. They tripled them. Insert middle finger here.
So now, where I grew up, there are a bunch of corporate people who are in town to drink $20 IPAs and don’t give a shit about the Cubbies. Stay classy, Rickett’s.
And…because they Yankees could afford it and the Rickett’s clearly need more money, we just lost our Golden Child. I’m grateful for the years we had him. He was a bright shiny light with a giving soul. He was not only a phenomenal player, but a funny, charming, philanthropic Chicago lover. Rizzo is cancer survivor, a hero to so many of us, a complete inspiration. He helped make IT happen. I am so grateful we had him for so long. I wish him and Emily the best.
I just heard Javy traded to the Mets and Kimbrel to the freaking Sox.