This is about the pitfalls of a superstar athlete who is trying to remain true to himself.
| Matty went straight to the showers after their meets because he had to help his dad close up at the end of the day and do his regular chores when he got home. It was usually 9:30 before he and his dad would squat at the kitchen table for a late night dinner. By 10:00 pm they would be changed into their night clothes, sitting on the couch saying a prayer of thanks for the previous day, watch the day’s highlights on Sports Center and in bed asleep by 10:30 pm.
When A.J. finished his workout he did not go straight to the locker room like Matty. A.J. would walk over to the baseball field and watch practice. He would sit in the bleachers and watch as the boys shagged pop flies, turned double plays and took their turn at batting practice. He was amazed at how easy the boys made it look. A.J. would stare in a dreamlike state for what seemed to be days but was more like 30 - 45 minutes. But when the boys left for the day A.J. knew it was time to head home.
When he got home dinner would be waiting on the stove and he would shovel the food in faster than a Hoover vacuum set on high speed. His mom would be sitting in the living room reading her bible and listening to Tom Brokaw on the evening news.
After he ate A.J. would go upstairs and get ready for bed. Before he went to sleep A.J. would sit on the floor and tell his mom and dad if he made it home in time, about the day’s events. He would briefly touch on what happened in school but mainly focused on how he nearly won a race today and how he would get him tomorrow.
He never told his parents about the other part of his day though - the part where he was entranced by some guys hitting a ball with a stick and catching it in a glove. It wasn’t as if they would be upset that he watched the practice - in fact they would probably encourage A.J. to be around as many good young boys as possible. There was just something about his time at the ball field that was magical and he could not explain it to anyone - not even himself.
His parents were very happy that A.J. had found a healthy hobby instead of sulking in his room everyday. His mom even noticed that he was starting to develop a physic.
She took a double take one evening when A.J. came into the living room for his nightly report. A.J. had been wearing a pair of shorts and she noticed that her son’s leg muscles were ripped. They were still small on his little frame but they were chiseled like bodybuilders’ who had been training for years! When she asked him what happened to his legs A.J. looked down at them, smiled and said it must be a bug bite.
Pretty big bug wouldn’t you say kiddo? They smiled at one another and then A.J. went on up to bed.
At around 1:30 am A.J. was startled from his sleep by the sound of the phone ringing. A few moments later his dad came into his room and simply said, get dressed and pack a bag for a trip. While he was packing he heard his dad talking on the phone but he couldn’t make out the conversation.
At 2:15 am his dad opened his door and said you ready to go kiddo?
Yeah I guess but where we going?
You and your mom have to fly Connecticut for a few weeks.
Why what’s wrong with grandma?
She’s not feeling well and your mom has to go tend to her. I can’t go because I have to work.
Can’t you take time off and go with us?
I wish I could son. I wish I could!
They piled in the car and no one spoke a work all the way to the airport. The 3 of them rode the train to the American Airlines terminal and then walked some more until they reached gate 27.
While they waited Hope gave her husband the rundown on how the house was run and what bills he needed to pay. She didn’t really need to tell Chappy anything but it kept her mind busy and that prevented her from becoming overwhelmed and breaking down in tears.
Don’t’ worry sweetheart. I can handle things on this end. You just go ahead and tend to your mom. I’m sure she could use your help right about know.
Hope hugged her husband so tight that he thought she might not let go. Chappy patted his son on the head. Take care of your mom understand?
No problem dad!
They said their good byes and then inched down the ramp to the plane. I’ll call you in the morning when there is more information. I LOVE YOU, Chappy!
I LOVE YOU TOO, my sweet angel!
Chappy waited until the plane taxied out of site before leaving the gateway. He strolled to the parking deck, got in his car and drove home. As he was leaving the airport he couldn’t help but look up into the sky and try to find the plane that contained his family.
He was sitting at a red light and Chappy closed his eyes briefly. He prayed to the lord above that the plane arrives at its destination without incident. He also prayed that his wife have the strength to control her emotions and due what’s best for her mom.
A horn blew from behind him and when he opened his eyes the light was green and everyone was waiting for him to go. He drove through the intersection and said one last prayer out loud - Lord please watch over my family! I couldn’t live without them!
By the time he got home it was too late to go back to bed - not that he thought he could sleep right now anyway. He thought about calling in to work but if he didn’t stay occupied today his mind would have its way with him. He couldn’t imagine being away from his family for more than a few hours but for the first time in his life that’s just what he had to do.
Chappy made the decision to accomplish as much as possible today so he went into the basement and put in a good hour and a half workout. When he finished his muscles were exhausted but he felt cleansed. For a short while he was able to put his fears out of his mind.
Chappy transcended the stairs and entered the master bathroom. He turned the shower on and while the water warmed up he started shaving. Normally Chappy was in and out of the shower within ten minutes but today he took almost an hour. When he stepped out of the shower the mirror was steamed over, the air was stuffy but he felt revived and ready for a full days work.
He went down to the kitchen, drank a glass of milk and grabbed an apple from the basket on the counter. He went to the garage, backed his Chevy Blazer into the driveway and stopped short of the road to pick up the newspaper. He pressed the garage door opener and the door descended as he drove down the road and headed into the city. As he drove his mind wandered but to no particular place. Before he knew it he had arrived at work and was sitting in his parking space.
Chappy entered the building and went straight to his office just like any other day. Throughout the day, Chappy casually looked around the office at his co-workers. He pondered what kind of lives they led when they weren’t at work. Surely some had families and of course some were members of the party crowd. But how many of them dreaded going home to an empty house? How many stayed late at work solely to avoid another lonely night of frozen dinners and bland television?
When he got home that evening he tried to act surprised at the emptiness of the house but he knew he would be alone tonight. He fixed himself some dinner and then sat in his recliner and turned on the evening news. A wave of revelation washed over him like a wave crashing on a deserted beach. He was one of the lonely people he tried to pick out at work. Sure he had a family and friends but his daily routine was nothing short of monotone. He did the same thing day in and day out. Even when he spent time with his family each night he took it for granted. He never imagined being without them but in a way he always had been. They had their own lives and he was merely a minor part of them.
At that moment Chappy stood up and turned off the TV. He kneeled on the carpet in front of his recliner and prayed to God. He prayed that he would be successful in his attempt to reconnect with his family and cherish every moment they have together! Chappy felt God’s presence wash over him and he knew everything would be fine. He then heard God speak to him and was startled for this was the first time this had ever happened.
Rest my son! Though I am with you always you have a long road in front of you. Be strong in your convictions and abilities and your dreams will soon transform into reality.
Chappy opened his eyes and looked around. He was by himself just as he had been when he began praying. However now he was not alone! He rose from the floor and went off to bed.
After the plane took off Hope told her son that he could go and ask to visit the cockpit. A.J.’s face lit up as he walked up the aisle towards the front of the plane. As soon as he was out of site Hope buried her head in her hands and began to cry. An elderly stewardess walked by and said, “don’t worry dear this plane isn’t gonna crash”.
It’s not that. I received a horrible call earlier tonight.
Do you want to talk about it?
I’m not sure if I can just open up to a complete stranger. No offense, I just don’t know if I can trust you.
Well no offense taken. Tell ya what I’ll finish serving the snack and then come back. If you feel up to a chat then I’ll be all ears.
At that A.J. returned from his visit with the pilots and his life was all a glow. Mom it was so cool! All the knobs and switches and I even got to fly the plane! Maybe I day I will become a pilot!
You can do anything you put your mind to son.
The plane was maybe half full and A.J. asked permission to sit in the empty row in front of his mom’s. After the snack, A.J. spread out on two seats and drifted off to sleep.Thirty minutes later the stewardess returned and Hope asked her to sit down if she was allowed of course.
I got a call from my sister tonight. She said she found our mom collapsed in the living room and now she is in the hospital. What could have happened? I don’t know how I will survive if she dies!
Well just remember to trust in the lord and all will be fine.
You’re right but I am still scared of losing her. We had a very special relationship. She loved both me and my sister but there was a connection that we shared and to this day I can’t explain it.
I’ll keep both you and your family in my prayers dear.
Thank you that is very kind of you. God bless you!
And you as well!
The plane landed in New Haven and when Hope and her son exited the gate she saw her younger sister Amber standing against a wall. She had a hollow look in her eyes and paleness to her skin that made her appear to be a ghost.
The ladies embraced and it was all they could do not to let the water works commence.Hey sis. How’s mom?
I’m not sure but we can talk about that in the car. Do you have any bags?
Just the ones we brought on the plane.
And who is this handsome stud you have by your side? It can’t be A.J. can it?
It sure is me Auntie Amber.
You did some growing since the last time I saw ya kiddo. You’re sprouting like a weed.
How far is it to your place from here sis?
Only 20 minutes or so but it should take no time at this hour. Let’s get going so we can rest before we go to the hospital.
When they got to the hospital A.J. wasn’t sure he wanted to go in the room. He hadn’t seen his grandma in a few years and didn’t know what to expect. They entered the room just as the doctor had finished his examination. How’s our mom Hope asked.
To be honest your mother isn’t doing as well as we would like. She had a stroke that left her in a comma. Her heart is damaged but not significantly. Your mom’s biggest obstacle right now is the comma. When your sister found your mom she had been unconscious for an extended period of time. Now our concern is brain damage.
With that Amber gasped loudly. Is it that serious doctor?
All we can do right now is what and see.
The doctor exited the room and left the sisters sitting with their mother. Neither said a word and the only sound you heard was the monitor letting you know that their mother was still alive.
A.J. found it difficult to visit so he mostly sat in the lounge just down the hall from the intensive care unit where his grandma lay in a comma. A nurse turned on a TV to keep him from getting bored but A.J. never really watched it. He stared at the screen but if asked he couldn’t tell you what show was on or what it was about.
It wasn’t the hospital itself that scared A.J. it was seeing a loved one attached to all the wires and tubes. It was the clear plastic tube, sticking out of his grandmother’s mouth that was the only thing preventing her chest from falling for the last time.
Each day they performed the same routine. Get up at the crack of dawn, eat breakfast and head for the hospital. A.J. wished he could stay at his aunt’s house by himself but his mom refused. She said he was just too young to be by himself for such a long stretch of time.
When they got to the hospital A.J. went to the lounge and turned on the TV. His mom and aunt went to room 324 and sat with their ill mother. The doctor’s would come in around 9:00 am and report still no change. They would eat lunch in the cafeteria and then return to the room for another afternoon of daydreaming.
A.J. was getting restless. He understood that the situation was grave but he couldn’t help thinking how unfair it was that he was there. After all he hadn’t run in 8 days and he was petrified with the thought of loosing his form and speed. So on the 9th day he went into see his grandma even if it was for selfish reasons.
He stepped through the doorway and then paused briefly to catch his breath. At the sight of his grandma he was forced to choke down the feeling of nausea that washed over him. He stepped into the room and startled his mom when he asked, “How’s grandma”?
The same as yesterday I’m afraid.
Can I visit with her?
Can I be alone with her?
I guess but can you tell me why?
I just want to talk with her and I would feel weird if other people saw me.
Are you sure you can handle being in here all by yourself?
I think so.
And with that A.J. ‘s mom and aunt left the room
on the guise of getting a cup of coffee in the cafeteria. When they were gone A.J. sat on the edge of the bed and gripped his grandma’s hand with his right hand and covered it with his left. Grandma if you can hear me please wake up. Mom and Auntie Amber are sad and they think you might not ever wake up. I know you are just resting so that your body has a chance to heal but we need you to come back to us. We all miss your warm smile and engaging personality. Please God! Please make my grandma better! With that A.J. felt a tear roll down his cheek and he closed his eyes and began to cry.
A.J. had no idea what he was going to say when he sat down but apparently it worked. A moment later he was startled back into reality by the sound of alarms springing to life. When he opened his eyes so did his grandma!
A nurse walked in and looked on in amazement. This elderly woman was only given a 20% chance of regaining consciousness and that was being optimistic. She paged the doctor and he came to examine the miracle. When he was satisfied that the patient was able to sustain her own breathing he removed the tube from her throat.
It was hard for her to talk at first but the staff wasn’t expecting her to say much anyways. They feared that her brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long and that there was irreversible damage.
A.J. ‘s mom and aunt walked in and both almost fainted at the sight of their mother not only awake but having a conversation with the doctor. Hope - Amber it is so good to see you! Come and give your momma a hug! They embraced their mom and all 3 females started crying. Doctor how is this possible?
To be honest ma’am we don’t know. Your mother isn’t showing any signs of long term disabilities. She will still need some extensive therapy but everything points to her making a full recovery. It really is quit astounding!
Mom how is this possible?
Her speech was slow and choppy but you could understand what she was saying. I’m not sure darling. I’ll I know is I heard A.J. asking me to wake up so I did.
Two days later Hope and Amber took their mother home from the hospital. They went back to Amber’s house and a nurse came in once a day to help with the physical therapy. The rest of the time the sisters would take turn reading to their mother and helping her recoup her memory skills.
A.J. began to have the time of his life. His grandma was better and now he could spend his days outside instead of cooped up in the hospital. This enabled him to go running and recover anything he lost over the past ten days, not that there was anything to recover.