Buddy and I were part of the Braves baseball team, circa 1970 or so. We were kids about 12 and 14 years old. One of my dearest aunts, who was by marriage but closer than blood in many ways bought our baseball uniforms each summer. My aunt Velma Grant was one of the sweetest women I ever knew. I can’t love her enough for what she meant to us. People used to say they didn’t know how the Grant men got such good wives. It is true, I don’t remember any of the aunts, or my mother that were not soulfully good Christian women, devoted to their husbands and probably much better than they deserved. But aunt Velma, well, I think she loved us more than our uncle did. She drove out in the country almost every Sunday and picked us up for church, fed us after and then brought us home. I can still see her writing in her tablet, the minutes of the church. Although I don’t remember the exact date I was baptized, I can rest assured she wrote it down somewhere and in the archives of the church somewhere it is written. I could write on and on about my aunt Velma and although this story sounds like it is about her at this moment, it’s really not, I just get lost in then. Getting back to baseball though. Buddy was always the ball player, I was just the little brother saddled to a team. I loved it though, it was one social event that we all looked the same. We had the same uniform that differentiated no one. You wouldn’t know who was poor and who wasn’t, thank you aunt Velma. One evening, getting lost in the game, getting deep in the 8th inning, Buddy, myself and several other boys were sitting in the dugout. To my horror, who can you imagine showed up drunker than Cooter Brown? It was my dad, not the nice Jekyll dad that had been drinking beer, it was the Hyde drunk that had hit the liquor bottle. He was always a different person with this kind of intoxication. As if I didn’t already have enough insecurities playing ball and being small for my age, now one of my biggest fears was coming to fruition. The stands were relatively full, so there were a lot of people that saw my dad. My dad started getting loud, and obviously not in the right frame of mind to understand the game. He began yelling about us being in the dugout, that we should be out on the field playing and that if he needed to, he knew how to get us out there. This was probably one of the most embarrassing events I ever lived through. Dad was causing such a ruckus that the coach asked us if we wanted to go ahead and make sure dad got home, a polite way of saying get your dad out of here. Thankfully, we all learned to drive early, me included. I learned to drive in an old 1963 Ford Fairlane column shift. Buddy and I finally got our dad to the car and Buddy drove us home. I felt ashamed for a long time after that, so much so that I never played another ball game of any kind in my life, other than having to play in PE class. Only Buddy knew how deeply that affected me. There was no way I was ever going to set myself up for that immense humiliation again, despite Buddy’s infernal encouragement. Buddy played and continued to play throughout high school. I was always there though. I was his biggest fan, through the cold, wind and rain. I was always there, unless dad saw fit for us to do something else. By now, the school system knew how my dad was. I know some of the coaches went lightly on Buddy when he had to miss practice. So many things I experienced with my siblings, but Buddy and I continue to pick up remnants of the past and share them. In reading this story, it goes from good too bad. The feeling my siblings and I often felt. As I turn my head, I can see those little boys and remember every moment. I visualize Buddy swinging a crooked stick as I throw either clods of dirt are small rocks as we practiced baseball. I can see the tin cans we put in place for our bases and I can literally see the laughter bombard Buddy’s face as he hits the rock with that old stick. He was fun and in writing about him makes the words seem like a dance across the page. I love you brother!
Copyright @coffeewithcharles.blog (Charles D. Grant)