My youngest son is in his senior year of high school. The fundamental questions of “Who am I?” and “What am I going to be?” loom large. Ever since he was fairly young, he’s wanted to go to college and become a sports journalist.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve never doubted he could do it. He’s clever, funny, observant, a solid writer, and he has a grasp of the mechanics of sports that I honestly can’t begin to follow. For all those exact same reasons, I’ve always hoped he’d do something else.

With the peculiar blend of unconditional love and a “deep desire to make other choices for you” that only a parent can concoct, I wanted him to be a writer. By which I mean a writer of plays, or comedy, or literature. Not sports analysis. I suppose I worried I wouldn’t have anything to talk with him about.

Still. Ultimately, I want what he wants (that’s what we do, right parents?), so of course, I agreed to read his college essay. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting. I suppose I thought it might be a more generic, “Why I want to be a sports journalist” kind of thing. What I read though, was something else altogether.

Mind you, that was the point of the essay in the end, but the “why” was so unexpected. What he wrote about was how lucky he was. Lucky because when he was little, he and his brother spent every day after school with their grandparents, eating forbidden snack foods and watching TV until it was time to go home. A lot of that TV time was spent watching and discussing sports with my dad.

In particular, he wrote about a moment back in game one of the 2013 World Series, Red Sox vs. Cardinals. There was a play that went wrong and after a fairly basic hit by the Sox, seven Cardinals ran to the ball – and then all stood there as it dropped to the ground between them. The play itself, he stressed, was not important. It did not decide the game. What was important was the way he and his grandfather laughed and laughed about it.

My dad, it appears, had been taping that game and whenever they wanted a laugh, they’d replay it and laugh all over again. They discussed it over and over and it became one of those things where they’d each just say one word and set each other off. In fact, it came up (again) when my son was visiting my parents back in September. And there’s the thing. Just a few days after that visit, one day after my parents’ 66th wedding anniversary, my dad had a series of strokes and died.

I haven’t written about it and, frankly, I’m not really ready to yet either. But I will say this: reading my son’s essay about how those afternoons with his grandfather cemented his love of the game, not only for the sport as sport, but for how sport bonds people together … well. Since my dad’s death, I’ve been feeling his loss. Everywhere. All the time. How fortunate I am to have a son reveal to me that I’ve been so wrong. My dad is here, in my two sons. Everywhere. All the time.

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