While I’m writing this looking at my dad falling asleep watching Sunday Night Baseball in my grandpa’s office, I can’t help but think of all that went into getting us out to Connecticut these past five days.
For a journey that started on a December night near Christmas of 2016 when I blew a $200 hole in my wallet for a Red Sox game six months and a few days from the time I bought them, I couldn’t be more thankful for how it’s all happened.
My dad has made a lot of sacrifice in his life to make things better for us. After meeting my mom in our nation’s capital, moving to Ohio and 700 miles away from Putnam and the connectivity that comes with the Mass. Pike, sometimes he dealt with the ramifications of that. (i.e. the six year stretch that went from 2011-now after his 30-year high school reunion)
Vacations growing up were spent in a perfectly small rotation of places: Put-in-Bay, Disney World and Putnam. The first two greater than the latter, though all three places were visited multiple times.
But as my two sisters and I got older and commitments grew larger, stretches between time in New England grew further and further. Not because we wanted it to happen, but because sports and music and life in general took over. We were growing up. And because of that and where we lived, travel ball took precedence over the northeast and being at football camps and conditioning days took precedence over packing up the van and making the drive to Putnam for a week, or anywhere for that matter.
After graduating from high school and now entering into the final semester of my undergraduate studies at Ohio State, I was able to make up for that lack of visitation a couple times. The first spending a week in Putnam after a month-long European study abroad, getting here via Berlin to Oslo to Boston all on one-way airplane tickets.
The second was an alternative winter break in the winter of 2016 and what really led me to want to bring my dad here as soon as I could. In December, my group of students through Buck-I-Serv got a free day to explore Boston. My dad’s younger brothers David and Kevin picked me up early in the morning on Sunday Dec. 18 and I spent the day at my grandparents’ house in Putnam. A week of ten-hour volunteer days for eight hours with my family.
After my mom had her hemorrhagic stroke in March of 2016, my dad has made one of the biggest continual sacrifices I think I’ve ever seen anybody make.
Though working at the library part-time during the week, the constant and undivided attention comes through the support that he gives my mom at home. Feeding, assisting with the bathroom, giving her an extensive list of medications daily — waking up at all hours of the night to help her live somewhat of a life that she once did.
It’s a full-time job but he doesn’t treat it as such.
But for as many times as people have asked about my mom and rightfully so, my dad often gets left out of the consideration to those who don’t have any idea what he’s going through. And that’s perfectly fine because, again, it’s something people are unlikely to consider unless they’ve gone through something similar.
They’ve both suffered, but are both so strong.
So here’s you to you dad: thank you for everything you’ve done for mom the last year and a half. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, keeping me afloat and for everything that we did this weekend.
Thank you for being my best friend.
Friday in Boston
When we first got into Boston, dad and I bought
T passes for the day, (THIS IS ME INTERNALLY SCREAMING FOR COLUMBUS TO BUILD A RAIL SYSTEM) and our first stop was across the harbor and over to Harvard.
There at Harvard we got our JFK fix with a free exhibit next to the library.
Speaking of the library, here’s a picture of Jim in front of it.
We were going to count the books he’s read within its walls, but it was getting close to lunch time and I wanted to take him to the original Regina Pizzeria in the North End.
We got the Classico. Italians know what they’re doing with artichoke hearts on pizza.
After finishing at Regina we stayed over on the North side, getting to the Garden, a first for both us.
For what it’s worth, to me, on the outside it looks like a giant concrete shoe box but on the inside is sweet, sweet basketball and hockey lore.
Finally, a moment we both had been waiting on for a really long time. The last time dad stepped foot within the green walls of Fenway, the place was moldy and smelly, I was not yet eight and sinker-baller Ramiro Mendoza and the Devil Rays at the time put up 22 runs on the Red Sox.
Fenway Franks also smelled just as bad then as they do now.
Other than the Red Sox getting absolutely bundled, the only things I remember from the game was screaming “Johnnnnnnnny” irrationally loud at Johnny Damon during his at-bats and missing a Trot Nixon home run while my dad and I were in the team shop. We bought matching Nomar Garciaparra sleeveless shirts in typical Jim Longo fashion.
Anyways, fourteen years after we last watched the Red Sox at Fenway together, Jim sat down for a game at 4 Yawkey Way.
I’m not going to lie, Jim and I are some sappy dudes. Water from the eyes flows at seemingly any conceivable and inconceivable time.
So yeah, his tears weren’t about the putrid Red Sox offense that night, or the three-run bomb that landed a section over from us that hooked around Pesky Pole, or that the Red Sox fell out of first place and that organ tunes were played after the game in lieu of “Dirty Water” signifying a Red Sox win.
They were about what we’ve been through, where we come from, what we’ve done and where we’ve been, places and things we’ve seen and memories we’ve made together.
Sunday night driving to downtown Putnam to walk around my dad made the point that just because these trips and being out here hasn’t happened often doesn’t mean they’re any less meaningful, and that the memories made are further engrained deeper in our hearts.
(p.s., Putnam is named after Israel Putnam, a Revolutionary War hero at Bunker Hill, Putnam County in Ohio is named after him the same. ~history is cool~)