A Letter to My Son (mostly) about Baseball
A few years ago my friend, Deb Dauer, spent the last summer of her life watching her son play baseball. Before she died, she wrote a blog post entitled, “Blessings”, that expressed how, despite enduring the final, painful stage of ALS, she felt blessed to simply sit under some trees and watch her son play baseball.
On a warm July night, as we exited the gravel parking lot of your final Little League baseball game, you sat in the back seat of the car and cried.
As we drove south on a Pennsylvania highway, Mom looked at me, with tears in her eyes, and said, “Maybe you should write about this.”
I smiled, “Maybe.”
Last summer, your travel team advanced to the Pennsylvania State Playoffs and finished in fourth place. However this year, despite high hopes, your team lost in the championship game of the tournament that decided which team advanced to the State Playoffs. Had your team won the State championship we would have traveled to play in Connecticut, a state I’ve only traveled through to get to Fenway Park in Boston. And had your team won in Connecticut, they would have played in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in the Little League World Series and you would have played televised games like a big leaguer on ESPN.
Somewhere in a father’s job description, between squishing spiders and taking out the garbage, it says something about preparing children for disappointment. So, begrudgingly I must tell you: life is unfair. You will strike out. You will lose. Sometimes hope is not enough. Sometimes your best will not be good enough. As if the fix is in. As if life is governed by a crew of blind umpires. And sometimes there is crying in baseball.
Selfishly, as your dad, I want you to always win. I want you to be forever happy. Only shed tears of joy. And I want you to play on ESPN.
But I need you to know more losses are coming. Some dreams will go unachieved. Unhappiness and sadness will find you. And as difficult as it may be, I can only sit in the stands, shift my weight, and watch you learn life’s hard lessons.
Baseball is not for the faint of heart. It’s a cruel and remorseless game. It makes televised big leaguers cry like 12-year-old boys. To play baseball you must possess an infinite amount of human resilience. A game where, before you can succeed, you must endure failure. Like life, you must learn to handle curveballs and hitless streaks and errors and losses in order to appreciate the beauty and blessedness of baseball.
As we pass a billboard for Bushkill Falls which announces, “Niagara of Pennsylvania” I think about Deb. How, in the final summer of her life, she didn’t make pilgrimages to see grand, worldly sights. She simply went to the local fields to watch her son play baseball. And, I guess, in a very human way it was what she needed. To watch her son fail only to try and try again.
Recently, mom and I have talked about taking some family trips before my disease worsens and traveling becomes more difficult. However this summer, your last Little League summer, I told mom I would rather watch you play baseball than travel.
I guess we travel because there’s a human urge to fill our living eyes with as many wonderous sights as possible. To be inspired by something new. To make memories. To celebrate being alive. To seek out sights that will steal our breath away and swell our heart.
But this summer I chose to watch you fail. And then I watched you do something inspiring. Something wondrously human. I watched you try again and again until you successfully turned double plays, stretched doubles into triples, and slide across home plate safely.
This summer your resilience stole my breath away.
This summer my blessed heart watched you play baseball.
I love you,
All photos courtesy of Monica Melhuish, 2022.
Christian, Health & Well-Being, and Inspirational Books:
Hot Summer Self-Help Books:
With titles like 500 Daily Affirmations forAnxiety and Being Yourself Journal, this promo is full of books that strive to provide readers with new and healthier perspectives.
Congratulations to my friend Chris Palmore for recently publishing his 5th book–Gratitude Journey Volume 2. I’m so honored and humbled to have my writing featured in this awesome book. Please check it out!
Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B3GVTN8L
Last Week’s Post: You are the Sky
We are vast and deep and powerful. An expanse of possibilities. A swirl of inspiring beauty. But sometimes there are clouds. Sometimes those clouds seem permanent. Forever fixed to litter the sky. Then I remember something I once read, “The cloud can’t exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.”
Quote of the Week:
If you would like to share something with others (a photo, a poem, a song, a quote, etc.) that tosses some positive vibes into the world, please send your suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Bedtime Stories for the Living recently received not ONE…not TWO…but THREE highly coveted 5-Star ratings from Reader’s Favorite–a highly-respected literary website that reviews books from all over the world!!!
Readers’ Favorite Review by Emma Megan
Jay Armstrong, a high school English teacher, explains in “Bedtime Stories for the Living: A Father’s Funny and Heartbreaking Memoir About The Power of Pursuing Your Dreams” how he was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative brain disease. This striking memoir contains wonderful love letters for each of Jay’s children, beautiful true stories, and precious life lessons and advice. It also contains what Jay never told his kids, what he felt like saying to them but failed as life got in the way. In “Bedtime Stories for the Living”, Jay talks about poetry and books, the importance of writing and its impact on his life, offering aspiring writers valuable writing tips. He also talks about the beauty and the challenges of life, of being a parent, and the difficulty of dealing with a rare disease.
You cannot read this breathtaking memoir and still be ungrateful for your health. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” by Jay Armstrong is the best motivational book I’ve ever read. Jay’s writing style is addictive, mainly because it’s nostalgic, vulnerable, and filled with wisdom and sorrow. In his uniqueness, Jay inspires and encourages not only his children but all his readers to figure out their dreams and to chase the one that brings them joy, to read poetry, and never to ignore their internal voice. He reminds them that they are responsible for how they adapt to change. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” is truly an empowering book as it speaks to the heart and the mind and delivers inspirational life lessons and unique stories. It’s undoubtedly a must-read.
Are you a reader? Looking for your next good book to read or listen to? Check out my new page “Jay’s Book Shelf” for some book recommendations.
Here’s what I’m currently reading: Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
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Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, former high school English teacher, and an award-winning author. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. The leader of the Philadelphia Ataxia Support Group, he hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a drink with his friends)
Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time.
You can also visit Jay at jayarmstrongwrites.com