Two of my many memories of my dad are of him being my coach in Little League and all the times over the years when he would say, “Someday we will not be able to do this.”
Ah, baseball, what a passion he had. Dad was a great athlete in his youth, growing up and playing ball in Lamberton, MN and then at Augsburg College. He was drafted and played baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals as a young and upcoming pitcher. He was given the name “Doc” because he always had ace bandages on some part of his body. All indications were that he was going to make it to the big leagues. However, God apparently had a different plan.
Dad came down with tuberculosis, a devastating illness that at the time had no cure. He was quarantined for over two years, putting an end to his baseball career. Maybe this was when he learned to really embrace life, charity, and compassion. Maybe this was when his lifelong motto “Someday we will not be able to do this” was developed. I wonder what would have happened if penicillin had not been discovered—would I be here? Or, what would my life have been like had my father been a professional athlete? Would I have been born? Would there be a Bob? This becomes a whole series of unanswerable questions that can mess with my mind if I let it.
Redirecting following a setback
God does work in amazing ways: What looked like the loss of a great baseball career actually resulted in an amazing career in business. My dad took a setback and redirected himself into a great life filled with career success and, more importantly, a successful life. He had an impact on, and appreciation for, those around him. He developed his faith. He embraced compassion, generosity, and grace. Dad’s faith became the foundation for how he lived his life. I believe his experience with a serious illness also instilled an amazing drive to succeed—he loved to win (Sounds a little “Trumpish” doesn’t it? However, Dad’s ego was far less apparent). Dad loved the feeling of success and felt that being at the top of the game was a hallmark and defined success. This was a trait that I learned to love. However, as I have discovered, as many of us should, this was also a family-of-origin issue that I did not handle well in the past and is often an issue we should all take a hard look at.
Back to his coaching: What a great experience to spend this kind of time with my dad. It was special for me as well as my fellow teammates who got to know and respect my dad. I was very proud to call him DAD. He tried hard to make me a pitcher, too—I had a strong arm. Dad got into great shape as he had to run after the balls as they flew over his head in the backyard. I was being taught to pitch although it was a skill I never mastered. But was there more going on than just learning to pitch? Was I learning to handle adversity? Was I learning that someone else’s talents do not need to be mine? Was I learning to find my “niche” in this athletic world, to continue to strive to do my best with the support and love of someone else? It turns out I was learning all of these lessons. However, it seems I did not bring these lessons quickly to the forefront in terms of my maturity and growing up.
There were many times when Dad would suggest doing something as a family and follow it with, “Let’s do it! Someday we will not be able to do this.” I would think, sure, let’s go without a great deal of thought as to what he was really saying. We had great times and made great memories. I became friends with my dad and mom—not that they were perfect—all relationships have flaws. However, what did develop in our relationship was grounded with grace and love, allowing us to overlook human flaws. That went both ways!
A number of years ago, Dad’s motto became very meaningful. My parents suggested we all take an amazing trip to Europe together. Yup, the suggestion was followed with, “Let’s do it, someday we will not be able to do this!” Off we went to Greece and Istanbul. I recall standing on the back of the small cruise ship talking to Dad after our final evening’s private dinner. As we cruised into the straits leading to Istanbul, he said, “I just am not feeling right. I’ve got to get to the bottom of why I feel this way, Bob.” I acknowledged his statement but didn’t give it a great deal of thought other than agreeing and showing interest and support as Dad was always in tune with his health (in large part due to his TB experience 50 years earlier). He was right, a little more than a month later he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away 13 months later. He was so right, let’s do things now as we do not know what the future holds. Someday we will not be able to do this!
Don’t wait for “Someday”
This reflection and memory is making more sense and has a deeper meaning as I get older. I realize that life is short and precious. I realize there are no guarantees for tomorrow. I guess this is what is driving some of my decisions today. I cannot wait to have a relationship with God. I cannot wait to take time with my children and grandchild. I cannot wait for “someday” to have life experiences, to serve others, to embrace life, and convince others that I am ok or that our relationship can work. I cannot wait to express how I feel today as I might not be around tomorrow. I as well as all of us, need to understand that there are many aspects of life we have no control over and that sometimes others need to take the initiative if it is important as we cannot make anyone else care or love. Not only am I challenging myself, I encourage others to look at what “someday” activities we need to do now that is meaningful to ourselves, to those that we care so much for and who are receptive to our passion of love, care, trust, honor, and respect.
I challenge everyone who is following my writings (Well I guess you are if you are reading this last paragraph—I am brilliant that way.) to do this: To not only create your “Someday bucket” list, but work intentionally in checking it off. I am guessing many of us will have far fewer regrets if we do just that.
Signing off now as I am starting to create my bucket list tonight. Someday I may not be able to.