Saturday, July 10, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

About a month ago, JSB called his dad with a simple request.  Well, simple to most people I guess.  To us, magnificent.

"Hey dad, OU is playing baseball at UVA this weekend.  Can we go?"

Furball and JSB are rabid Oklahoma fans.  Furball grew up there and inherited this phenomenon from his dad.  This passion was, in turn, passed on to JSB.  On game day, the maroon socks and jerseys come out, and the afternoon is spent in intense and colorful commentary.  Emphasis on intense.  

I don't get it, really.  But, I do respect it.  I know that for my husband it brings back fond memories of his relationship with his dad (now deceased).  I also know that when JSB was in the throes of his untreated mental illness, this familiar ritual was abandoned.  Well, life as we all knew it was abandoned.  I didn't realize how deeply the absence of this tradition impacted my husband until one game day last fall.  He was watching the football game alone.  His voice broke with grief as he told me how much he missed watching the game with JSB. 

Like many men, Furball rarely reveals that depth of emotion to me or to anyone.  It helped me to realize, yet again, how important his love for and relationship with our children is to us all.  I am grateful for that.

So, back to baseball.  Here's what's magnificent.  For a long, long time, JSB was living inside his head, unaware of the reality of things around him.  He was hounded and haunted by voices, delusions, and paranoia.  In that state, he's not aware of ordinary things like college baseball and football schedules.  He's too busy battling his own demons.

Going somewhere with a lot of stimulation and people was impossible for him.  Not only would it overwhelm him, but his behaviors stand out as not normal, and quite frankly, scare people.   I can tell you, no one in our family is interested in listening to the judgment and commentary of these armchair witnesses of mental illness.  Come into the trenches with us.... then we'll talk.

Of course Furball jumped at the chance, bought the tickets, and went to State Hospital to pick up his son and take him to a ballgame.  They wore their OU colors, sat in the maroon section with the other Oklahomans, bantered with fans, and cheered their team to victory.  Then rushed back to State Hospital to get JSB back to his ward before curfew.  A couple of unlikely Cinderellas.

I wonder if the fans at that game realized the miracle they witnessed in the stands that day.  Such an ordinary thing, going to a baseball game.  To the casual observer it's just a young man and his dad who share a passion for all things Oklahoma doing what they  love.  What they love together.

  To us, yet another reason for hope, for joy, and for boundless gratitude.


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