Some things in life happen where we least expect them. At a Veteran’s home in NJ, there lives a man who was born in the Bronx. His name is Joe B. Joe served as a Marine in World War II and returned home to the tri-state area. He joined the Newark police force and married a woman he met at a local swimming pool.
Joe’s father had been a fan of the New York Yankees. Naturally, Joe assumed the lineage of his family and imagined that he, himself, was standing on the pitcher’s mound of Yankee stadium as he fired rounds from his Model 10 single action handgun for his annual police shooting qualification.
That same evening, Joe B. just happened to sit at a table with two members of the Boston Red Sox. One was Carl Yastrzemski. Mr. Yastrzemski had just finished what would be the greatest season of his entire career. The other diner at the table was Johnny Pesky, who would later be named “Mr. Red Sox”. Johnny Pesky played for the Bosox and later returned as a coach for his team. Pesky was a left-handed hitter who threw with his right hand.
The Newark cop sat in the company of these two men. Joe listened to their theories on the trickery of the hand stitched baseball. His fingers ached to understand the power behind their wondrous skills, and after merely a few minutes at the table, before the antipasto was placed upon it, Joe had stopped sneaking glances across the room towards the New York Yankee ball team.
You see, Joe was willing to see greatness in front of him. Despite his family’s leanings towards the opposing team, a cop in New Jersey strayed from his roots to follow a divergent path. Much like one who throws with his left hand and bats with his right.
We are all just one dinner away from change. From meeting the Carl Yastrzemski of our own lives, whoever that may be. Our hero. Our proof that astounding things are within our grasp; with our left or right hands.
*I rediscovered this story as the Red Sox won the World Series this past week! I had written it a few years back, in honor of my Grandparents and my Dad, avid Sox fans all.
The tale of Joe B. meeting Carl Yastrzemski does not directly fall into the category of caregiving, which is the purpose of this blog. But it does underline the things we can learn when we care for others…the remarkable underpinnings that connect us as human beings. Joe B. is probably not alive anymore. Yet as the Red Sox won on Sunday, October 28th, 2018, I remembered him and leapt in the air with joy.
I was already a Red Sox fan when I met him, mind you. Joe had sustained a stroke which rendered him unable to walk in the nursing home. He could not use his right hand at all, but ate an ice cream sandwich with his left as he told me this story. I believe that my time with Joe, however brief, was one of my own dinners closer to change.