Thursday, February 28, 2019

a true human being

Maybe it’s because it’s Spring and for some this time of year marks the return of baseball. But a couple of weeks back I dreamt of my first baseball coach, Bill Favero. Bill was the oldest brother of my best friend Craig Favero (a great first name, don’t you think?). I played for Bill for 3 or 4 years and he coached us to the county championship one of those years. Our teams were called the Mighty Mites and the Falcons.

Bill was a person who lived with polio and was confined completely to a wheelchair. He also only had the use of his right arm. But he still pitched batting practice and hit fielding practice. When hitting fielding practice he would toss the ball up in the air, pick up the bat which was resting against his wheelchair, hit the ball to the fielder, and by the time the ball was fielded he would have returned the bat to the side of his chair, slipped his hand into his baseball glove which was resting on his lap and sat ready to receive the ball when it was eventually thrown to him.

I often had the true privilege of pushing him several blocks to practice and back. Outside of my family, his was the first real role model and teacher in my life. Not only did he show me a lot about overcoming adversity, his did so with absolute grace, and with such natural kindness, respect, and humility - traits I could still learn lot about from him (particularly the humility).

In the dream I’m cruising around with another friend of mine from days gone by, Doug Rowe. We happen to drive by Bill and he’s playing ball with a bunch of kids in his driveway. I just have to pull over and say hello. He’s able to stand while leaning on his chair, something he could do in so-called 'real life', and after saying hello we simply hug each other with great love for a long, long time. During the entire encounter we hadn't said a word to each other. As Doug and I are about to leave I say to Bill, “Well I guess we’ve said all we needed to say.”

As I contemplated this dream, the possibility came to mind that it was about embracing my own 'adversities,' and those of others in my limited perception of them, with kindness, respect, humility, and with love, whether the adversities be physical, mental, or emotional. Sometimes so hard to do. So hard to be one's own best friend, or hold oneself like one would hold a baby bird just fallen out of the nest. And yet, and so, so meaningful. And that perhaps my biggest disability, my most challenging adversity, is that of not being ready yet to embrace in this way.