Mother's Day Salute Series: New York Met's beat writer, Jerry Beach on his mom.
When I think of my mother and sports, I remember the look of gentle bemusement on her face.
I saw it all the time in elementary school, when I’d recite the stats I’d memorized by poring over The Hartford Courant sports section. And by poring over, I mean “read with my elbows embedded into the paper.”
So there were many, many mornings when the school bus was chugging down Torcon Drive and my Mom was frantically trying to scrub the newsprint off my elbows. Even at that young age, I could read her mind: How did the sports section end up on the elbows of my son?
My obsession with sports only grew over the years, but Mom’s bemused expression remained the same—whether I was providing play-by-play to the basketball or football games I played in the house, asking to eat Sunday dinner at a dining table chair that would allow me to see the TV (4 p.m. NFL games, you know) or yelling at the people on the TV after my teams lost.
I authored a particularly impressive tirade in the spring of 1992, when my predicted NCAA Tournament champion, Arkansas, lost in the second round. I think it involved profanity and crumpled-up brackets that I used as projectile weapons.
(Side note: It’s normal to remember stuff like this, right?)
“Look at him go,” she said to my Dad.
I realized the pride behind her bemusement at Christmas 2003. We were in the car driving along Winsted Road and talking about a book I had just authored. I told her I was certain I’d inherited a love of sports from my Dad and a love of writing from Mom, who specialized in Language Arts while pursuing her teaching degree in the 1960s.
She shook her head. “No, no, no,” she said. “This is all you. We had nothing to do with it.”
That wasn’t true, of course. In her case, she certainly helped plant the seeds for my dual passions by not only offering me the freedom to act like a lunatic about sports but by also setting an example with her everyday actions. I was greeted every morning by the sight of my Mom sitting at the kitchen table and reading one of the three newspapers we had delivered to the house.
I remember Mom reading a newspaper during one of our last afternoons together in February 2009. This time, she was reading it in a makeshift bed in the living room, where she was spending most of her time during her valiant battle with cancer.
I was seated on the couch across from the bed. We chatted amicably for hours as the TV flickered and I wrote a couple entries for my blog about Hofstra sports.
At one point, Mom looked over at me typing away.
“I could never get you to write your research papers in high school,” she said, “but you’re really into that.”
She understood. But then again, she always did.
Thanks Mom, for everything. I love and miss you very much.