Yesterday, I spent a few hours in Coal City with my step-mom’s family. They got together and feasted on a plethora of fresh food, desserts, and cold beverages. Diane’s family has always accepted me as their own, and I hadn’t been to this farm before.
I was enjoying the afternoon but feeling a little shy.
I wandered over to the lawn, and my Dad was there too. I spied a couple flourescent frisbees on the ground, and grabbed the yellow one.
“Dad,” I said. “How about a game?”
He said he couldn’t throw too good, but why not?
We started out tossing it and fetching it. There was no catching, for either of us!
“I don’t want to run,” my Dad said. He’ll be 70 in October.
I didn’t care that neither of us were good players, I just enjoyed spending time with him.
And after about 10 minutes, of fumbling and giggling, something happened. We figured it out.
My Dad and I had started out standing farther apart, with no idea how to aim. He did pretty good at consistently throwing it in my vicinity, but my attempts were all over the place. I had asked him for advice. I remembered from college that, “It’s all in the wrist.”
I changed my stance, started throwing with my left hand instead.
Suddenly, he began catching my throws. I felt like a seven-year-old, excited by my accomplishment!
Somehow, we knew where to stand, and how to aim. At a shorter distance, we began volleying.
It was teamwork, at its best.
I understood why the game of catch is so instrumental in the development of relationships between fathers and sons. Or why sports tie people together, for that matter. You don’t need to discuss anything, but you’re relating and spending time together.
Our game was brief– maybe 20 minutes.
But it forged a new bond between my Dad and I, who already have a strong relationship. I got to see a side of him that reminded me how fun he is, how patient. He never got mad when my throws didn’t reach him. He didn’t complain about having to retrieve it, though he took his time. In turn, I didn’t get annoyed that he wouldn’t run or become frustrated and give up because my first attempts flew awry.
We both stuck it out, and soon, found a rhythm together.
It was because we both just enjoyed the game that we kept playing, and from that, we learned how to play better.
I’m 30, and it was a wonderful lesson.
Earlier, I had joked that his shirt matched someone standing nearby.
He was wearing a bright plaid cotton shirt, short-sleeved. Cheery and preppy, just like my Dad.
“When you’re wearing as many colors as I am, it’s hard not to match somebody!” he said.
That comment really sums him up. Gentle humor, bright colors, and an easy demeanor.
The next chance I have, I’m going to initiate another game with someone. Even if it’s not something I can do well. Because it’s not about how well you play the game, as I learned yesterday. It’s that you want to play, with them.