June 26, 2013

This One's for Pa

baseball generations

I didn't know my dad when he was a kid, but if I try to imagine him, I see a younger him in a baseball uniform.  It sounds, by the way he tells it, that his life was spent working with his Pa on the farm and playing ball.  No one was more special than his Pa, and nothing was more fun than baseball.

A summer ago, when he visited, he took all of my kids out to get baseball gloves and a bat and ball, and then he took them out in the field to play a bit.  It was clearly not Hannah Jane's thing.  Hunter showed great skill, but organized activities of any sort generally turn him off.  But little Haven caught the bug and he caught it bad.  It's funny, because from the day he was born, those on Joe's side of the family looked at Haven and said, "Where did he come form?  He doesn't look like any of them!"  But people on my side of the family said, "Well, there's an Allen if I ever saw one!"  The Allens- that's my dad' side of the family- were big boned, pale skinned, freckle faced folks who managed to have hefty kiddos even during the Great Depression.  So Haven is the only one of my kids to have won the Allen genetic lottery and his Pa's love of baseball.

Haven is just built for baseball.     His coach calls him slugger, and tonight I heard one of the other kids on the team ask him, "How come you call him slugger?"  The coach said, "Just watch when he bats.  You'll see."  It's always the same.  Two very dramatic and slow-motion practice swings and then BAM!  And when he ditches the bat and barrels to first, I can't help but think of my dad.  He finally got his athlete.  He just had to wait an extra generation to get it.  I was an only child who loved music over sports.  He supported that, bless his heart.  He learned how to do the nerdy band parent thing and he did it all the way in classic champion style.  But boy, oh boy, I can't wait for my dad to make a visit out during baseball season.  I'm pretty sure it will be a day that he's waited many a year for.  A chance to share his favorite game in the world - the game of his prime - with someone who got all of the Allen genes and calls him Pa, just like he called his favorite man in the world.  It's a very good thing.

Today was team picture day, and before we headed out to the field, Haven studied Pa's picture.  The tape on the hand, the funny way he wore his hat up on top of his head instead of down to his ears, the stance, the smirk.  He wanted every detail to be the same.  When I got the perfect shot, we headed to team pictures, and as he ran off to join his team, he called back, "I'm going to pose just like Pa in this one too!  If they let me!"

And so it is that even though I have to live a gazillion miles away from my dad - who, by the way, is still the most awesome dad of all times, and who is probably crying right about now as he reads this - I have a little piece of his spirit here in Haven.  His swagger, his pale skin (okay, our pale skin) and his extreme love of the great American pass time.  So, this one's for Pa!  We love you, man!

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