It is a hot July morning and I am sewing. Not a good combination, since I hate the heat and I am a terrible seamstress. I am sewing my oldest stepson’s baseball patch on his baseball shirt for a tournament. I should consider myself lucky, actually. He gave me the shirts and patches this morning, and told me he needed them this afternoon. Usually it’s much more last minute than that.
I’ve done this before. At home, in motels, in the car on the way to tournaments, and — truly at the last minute — on the sidelines of the baseball field as they are warming up for their first game. Why can’t they make these patches as iron-ons? Jani is 18, and has been playing on the district tournament team since he was about 10. Pete is 16, and has been playing competitive soccer as goalie since he was very small.
I’m doing this for the last time. When he plays ball in college, someone else will do that. We still have two more years before Pete, my younger stepson, goes to college, but Jani is the first one leaving the nest, and it will be hard.
My daughter grew up on the baseball fields and soccer fields of Fauquier County. She was born during the wintertime, so she was an infant in a carrier her first year, a toddler barely walking the next year, a two year old the next season, and then a precocious 3-year-old who captured everyone’s hearts.
It’s been so much fun to watch these boys through the years, growing and developing as athletes, as men, and as members of a team. It’s a small town, still, and the teams over the years have consisted of mostly the same players, give or take a few. This baseball tournament will be the last time this team plays together. Next year they will all be in college. Not only will they lose the closeness they have as friends and as a team, but we parents, who have spent all these years together in the stands, will lose our close-knit group too. And they will all leave holes in their families.
We are lucky to live almost adjacent to the High School’s baseball field, and I can hear the announcers and the crack of the bats and the shouts of the coaches and fans. It’s morning, but the tournament has started. We don’t play till tonight, though.
Next to me, with his head on my foot, is Jani’s puppy, a six-month-old Border Collie. He is totally not going to understand this college thing when the time comes.
Great. Now I’ve just noticed that I’ve been doing this the hard way, stitching from the back to the front involving multiple stabs per stitch rather than stitching from the front and placing each stitch accurately. I reverse my technique. But now I notice the stitches are getting smaller and closer together. Am I finally getting the hang of this, or do I just not want the project to end?
It’s so hot because I am sitting outside on the back porch doing this. I can’t find anywhere in the house where the light is good enough for me to work my magic with the thread. I’ve also just stabbed myself with the needle for the thousandth time in my patch-sewing career. So this shirt, like all the others in the past, will have drops of blood on it. And drops of the sweat that’s dripping from my forehead. But this one will have tears, too, because I’ve started to cry.