About two weeks ago, my grandmother passed away. She was 76 years old. Now I’m not going to get all morbid on you here, since this is a running blog, but since my grandmother was someone who played into my love of athletics, I thought it fitting to pay a little tribute here.
My grandmother was truly a force of nature. She was not the kind of grandma in story books who had grey hair and sat in the corner knitting (though she did crochet), telling you “Sweetie, you look so good, I haven’t seen you in so long!” She was an ice-blue eyed, blonde-as-straw haired lady, PA Dutch through and through, who told it like it was. She told you if she didn’t like something about you (my tattoos, always), she told you if she had an opinion on just about anything, or if she just simply had something to say about what you were doing, good bad or ugly. I had the privilege of living in near proximity to her my entire life – 7 minutes down the road my entire childhood into my 20s, at one point in my 20’s I even lived next door, renting my grandparents’ second home for a few years. I ate her chicken pot pie, I messed up her junk drawers, and swam in her pool every summer weekend as a kid. She would barge in when I lived next door, always yelling up into the house to see where I was and announce her entrance – when she was usually just bringing over some tomatoes from her garden or out on her daily walk. I think she just liked to be heard (and surely, she was). When we were kids, she let us sleep over and played games with my brother and I. As she got older, she became less and less tolerant of the younger grandchildren (who were born many years after us), so I like to think we got the best years of her grandmother-hood. She was a no-bullshit lady, and I’m happy to say I most certainly have a good bit of her moxy in my genes.
Where this coincides with my running blog is that my grandmother also loved sports. She absolutely loved the Philadelphia Phillies, as she was from the Harrisburg area. I heard so many tales of Mike Schmidt growing up that I’m pretty sure becoming a Mets fan was my version of rebellion. To the day she died, she had a Mike Schmidt baseball card tacked to a wall in her kitchen (and my grandfather sure hasn’t moved it, so it is certainly still there). She not only played softball but also began the Jamesburg Women’s League in her town, the same league I still play in today. She was always incredibly proud that I played ball. She attended every single dance recital, band concert, play, or chorus concert that I was in – but in truth, I think the only things she ever really enjoyed were my softball games. I was a pitcher, just like her. I am 35 years old – and every Friday in the summer, she and my grandfather still came to every single one of my softball games. In an old lady, beer-league, high arc softball league. Every year she drilled me about how soon until softball starts!!! A month ago, from her bed in rehab, she asked me how long until softball starts, and I told her she had a month to get herself well enough to attend.
While she won’t be there in person, I guarantee she will be at every game in spirit. While all of the ladies in the league won’t be able to chit chat with her or hear her stories about how “I started this league!” and “I’ve been playing since before you were born!” – I’m sure she’ll be watching. If things up there are going as I think they are, she’s got her own league to play in again and is hitting home runs in heaven.