A Bucket of Baseballs and a Brand New Grandson

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Another blessing came our way May 6th. Everett Andrew Bowen arrived at 10:33 a.m. weighing in at seven pounds, eight ounces, 20.5 inches long. His big sisters Ivy and Norah will spoil him rotten.

Our “grandbaby watch” experience was different this time, thanks to Covid. First, this baby was due May 27th, but he came a few weeks early.

Then, of course, we couldn’t step foot inside the hospital. No gathering in the waiting room anticipating. No hanging out with the other grandparents, Liz and Ernie Bowen. No dad’s grand entrance sharing an exciting announcement. No lullabies sounding in the background indicating another delivery. No visiting the newborn and parents soon after his arrival. So, we waited, prayed and rejoiced when the good news came.

We had to wait until Monday, May 10, to meet our newest. Everett, whose Old English name means “Brave, strong boar,” is our ninth grandchild. Three live in Florida, three in South Carolina and three in north Atlanta.

We Facetime fairly often, but trips to Florida and South Carolina happen only occasionally. When we do visit, we try to make the most of the time and build meaningful memories. And we want to spoil them as much as possible.

These kids grow up so fast and time moves too rapidly. I recently read a story on espn.com about Ethan Anderson’s grandfather cleaning out his garage and finding a bucket of old baseballs. Randy Long decided he no longer needed them, took the bucket to nearby batting cages, and left them there for anyone to use.

Long thought at 72-years-old, he probably would no longer pitch to his 46-year-old son or 23-year-old grandson, Ethan. When Ethan was a kid, he and his grandfather went to the cages several times a week to spend time together and try to sharpen Ethan’s skills.

On the bucket piled high with baseballs Long left this note:

“FREE – Hope someone can use some of these baseballs in the batting cages. I found them cleaning out my garage. I pitched them to my son and grandson for countless rounds. My son is now 46 y/o and my grandson is now 23 y/o. I’m now 72 and what I won’t give to pitch a couple of buckets to them. They have both moved away. If you are a father, cherish these times. You won’t believe how quickly they will be gone. God bless.

“p.s. Give them a hug and tell them you love them every chance you get!”

This story prompted me to reflect on time spent with my dad learning baseball. As soon as he got home from work, I was on him, “Hey, Daddy, let’s play pitch.” When I learned to swing the bat, I signed up for youth baseball and played into my early teens.

I wasn’t very good. I had trouble hitting the curveball. Couldn’t hit the fastball, either. I was great with the glove, though. I loved to run flyballs down in the outfield. What I remember most was my dad being at my games and encouraging me to do my best. He instilled such a love of the game that I’m still a big baseball fan today.

What does this story have to do with my grandparenting? I never knew my grandfathers. My mom’s dad died when she was fourteen. My dad’s father died when I was a year old. At least he met me.

I want my grandchildren to know me and remember me, and know I’m interested in their lives. We want to attend their events and be as involved as possible. I look forward to the day we can visit my kids and grandchildren anytime we want and stay as long as they’ll let us.

So, Everett, big guy, I have my bat, ball, and glove ready whenever you are. I can’t wait to get our T-ballers together. And my soccer stars. And swimmers, too. Maybe we can get all the grands together and field an entire starting nine. I’m certainly not rushing you, Everett, but the way time flies, we’ll be playing pitch before you know it.

[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join them each Sunday for worship at 8:45 and 10:55 a.m. and Bible study at 9:45. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org for more info or to watch them online. Contact Chancey at davidlchancey@gmail.com and visit www.davidchancey.com.]