What Are Your Traditions?


Seven days ago on March 19th a few steps were taken back in time down the carpeted stairs of my red brick home.  There, below the main level slept a spare bedroom with a nondescript bathroom.   Together, they waited all cozy and warm for March Madness to begin.

A buzz was in the air, much like you see and feel during holidays minus decorations everywhere.  Our big television was ablaze in all its LCD glory!  Red, white, royal blue and emerald-green uniforms waited for imaginary cheerleaders to jump out of their metal chairs.  To the left, a natural wicker table was set for a boys day of play.  On top, colorful bowls and baskets overflowed with taco chips, salsa dips, chicken wings and candy in case of low blood sugar attacks.

Ding-Ding!  What was that I heard?  ‘Doodle’ dog barking at the leaded glass door up above.  Running to open it, there he stood.  My oldest son, Jay, who took time off from work in order to watch basketball with his brother and father.  It had been a long-standing tradition in our small family for years and years.  Ever since the boys were very young like my husband had once been too.

In bounced my son’s service dog, Nimbus, his jet black tail knocking everything off tables before I had time to get to them.  Nothing mattered.  How glad I was to see them both!  Doodles jumped up and down with kisses of, “Hello.”  The two dogs rolled on the floor then chased each other all over the house.  Soon, the lab’s master firmly commanded, “PLACE!”

Minutes later, my youngest son popped over, jovial with a bear hug for his mama.  Warmth through and through.  A few minutes later my husband arrived home from his trip on the road, delighted to see his two sons already waiting for him.  So thrilled he was at the prospect of tradition.  Basketball together with March Madness plus so much more.

Jay and his dog were spending the night.  Too late to drive home after games played into overtime, he planned to sleep in a room that had once been his own.  How kind of his wife to extend this special gift to her husband.  Bonding time with his father and brother like no other.  Rare in these days of work that included varied shifts of hours never known.  Days and nights of travel, duplicate families, little children and babies of all ages.  Yes, grown-up lives….

And, an enormous “Thank You,” to my youngest son’s wife for holding down the fort all by herself with three babies at home.  Yes, three.  T.H.R.E.E!  Twins girls who are three months old plus a 17 month old daughter scattering every which way!  Such a gift to us all, but especially to my husband who rarely has such special time with both of his sons together.

March Madness.  Yes it’s about basketball, but in our house it’s so much more.  When I hear those two words, “March Madness,” it’s not a brown ball tossed through a hoop of white rope that comes to mind.

No, to me March Madness is all about tradition.  The tradition of family.  Bonding over munchies set on an old table of wicker.  Screaming faces in front of a screen that doesn’t respond.  Brackets, favorites, cheering and choosing.  Stomping feet, tossing heads in disbelief or smiling faces slapping high-fives!  Balancing paper plates on laps of sweat pants while taking notes with pencils of yellow.  Wiping mouths with printed paper napkins or hopping up in the air to yell, “No Fair!”

And, in the end hugging Good Bye to a son and brother in the dark of night.

Tradition….

Baseball Season


Baseball Season!  The time of year when Little League games will soon begin!  I remember my husband buckling seatbelts around waists of toothless grins before closing the door to our minivan.  It was “Sign-Up Day,” at our county Athletic Association.

I’d like to say that playing sports isn’t any different for children living with chronic conditions.  When my own kids were diagnosed, that was my hope.  Could it be true?   No, I was being defiant.  Wanting my sons to run bases without worry.  Hoping the knowledge in my head wouldn’t break my heart.

In a small building on the busiest street in town, folding tables were set in a room of peeling paint.  At first glance, it looked as though a country wedding was about to begin.  Instead, there was a cardboard box of printed paper surrounded by an unspoken order.  Tiny boxes needed be checked under fluorescent lights of bright white.  Names and addresses and ages too, were to be added in lines of blue.

Days later, an official looking letter arrived.  Like the first day of school, it listed an assigned teacher (coach) together with a classroom (team).  My boys delighted in this.  Especially the name of their teams!  Raptors, Thunder, or Boys of Wonder?   It didn’t matter.  A Home Run had already been hit within their imaginations….

That first season started only weeks after my oldest was diagnosed with diabetes.  Mothers and others covered their mouths, back then.  They whispered behind my back, “Was it possible to play with his condition,” someone asked?  Yes, my son could play baseball!   I would figure out a way.  He was no different from any other little boy…..Besides, he was good with the ball and a quick runner.  He could steal bases faster than any other six-year-old on his team.   His coaches nicknamed him, “Jet.”   Once he started running, he didn’t stop.  Two years before, Forrest Gump!

I’m not going to lie.  It wasn’t always easy.  Adrenalin made my boy’s blood sugar drop like the pitcher’s ball at home plate.   Sometimes, I’d dash off to the dug-out to prick his finger, checking a single drop of blood to see if his number was “low.”  If so, he’d drink a can of juice or eat some food brought from home.  Sometimes both.  Then off he’d go, out into the field of green to play and run and have some fun.

My youngest son who was diagnosed with asthma, had obstacles too, with sports.  Exercise was a huge asthma trigger for him.  He used a preventive inhaler before each game.  Even at a young age, he was still a big little guy who slammed the ball far into the field.  After running around all three bases, he often had to sit out for an inning or more.  Holding his chest, he’d gasp for breath.  Deeply, he’d inhale white powdered medicine from his rescue inhaler.  It was hard for him to sit on the bench while his friends played a game that he loved.  Harder still not to breathe….

God taught me many lessons during the years my kids played baseball.  After all, I lived at the ball park from the first game in spring until the end of summer.  In turn, both of my children learned lessons too.  Living with a chronic condition didn’t stop them from pursuing what they wanted in life.  No matter what, they could always try something new.  Together, they played sports of all kinds.  Somehow, they found a way.  First and foremost, they were kids who happened to live with……….whatever.

If your child lives with a chronic condition, do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true.  Ask for help, pray to God and wish upon a star.  If you believe in their dreams, they will too.

 

Jayson Gosselin–Age 6 First Year of Little League

Jay Justin Baseball1

 

 

Justin-Age 7, First Year                               Jayson-Age 9

Jay Justin Baseball2 Jay Justin Baseball3

 

Jay Justin Baseball4  Jayson–Age 16, Freshman High School