Dad didn’t summon the media to announce his decision. He just turned to my brother and I one day and admitted his days of athleticism were over. No teary-eyed press conference. No number to retire. He told himself – and his puzzled sons – he was too old to throw the ball around the backyard.
I can’t help thinking about my dad these days, especially when pulling on my athletic supporter and taking a few rusty swings with my softball bat. How much longer do I have as an athletic father?
Take a look at any softball field and you’ll see mostly 20 and 30-somethings rounding the bases. The 40-somethings stand out – the gray hair, the pot bellies, the less than athletic gait going from home plate to first base. Yes, some fathers my age are in amazing shape, but even they will likely pull more muscles and require more rest between innings.
How much longer do I have?
My brother, who is two years older than me, was a standout softball player. He crushed homers, raced down screaming line drives and knew the game well enough to never make boneheaded mistakes. He no longer plays the game he loves. He had hip surgery a few years back, but I’m not totally sure that’s the main reason why.
Next week I plan to bring my boys to watch me play softball. It’s the kind of moment I’ve been dreaming of for some time, the chance to have them watch me crack a single (on a good day I lack warning track power) or make a pinpoint throw from left field to second base. In the back of my mind I know the window for such Daddy heroics is dwindling. I’m one groin pull away from joining my brother in retirement.
I plan to make every at bat count.