It was a sad day when Jay Hasheider helped his son pack and get ready to move away to college. But one moment of joy amidst the sadness was a gift for both father and son.
Moving away from home is both a good and a sad thing. It is every child’s and every parent’s goal to eventually achieve separation, but it is nevertheless sad when it happens. So it was with heavy hearts on a Sunday in August that my son and I worked to prepare his car for a milestone journey—the day he moved across the country after twenty years of living under my roof.
We started early, but our work went slowly into the afternoon. The Sunday baseball game came on. Our hometown Cardinals were playing the Atlanta Braves.
I overheard bits of the TV broadcast—Atlanta took a two-run lead as we were packing the trunk. The score stayed the same as we fixed snacks for his trip. After that I became absorbed in glum thoughts about his departure and completely forgot about the game. I was stuffing the back seat with the last items when I heard the door open. “Dad,” he said, “come on in. Let’s watch the rest of the game. They’re only down by a run.”
His red-colored eyes instantly told me that he, too, found this to be a difficult passage and that he, too, wanted to share one last father-son moment. Without hesitation I led the way to the TV set. There, we found the game in the ninth inning with the Cards still losing 3–1. “Oh,” he said, “they’re down two runs. Never mind.” His voice cracked with doubt. “I thought they were coming back.”
“That’s fine,” I said, wanting so much to stretch this last moment before he left. “Let’s watch anyway.”
The Cards got to bat last. First a single, then another, followed by an infield hit that loaded the bases. Suddenly the game became very interesting. As David Eckstein walked up to the plate with one out, the drama of the game took us over. The sadness of that day was replaced momentarily by watching an exciting baseball game, something we had done many times together before.
That’s when the magic moment came. When David Eckstein parked the third pitch into the seats. It was a come-from-behind, walk-off, grand-slam home run, only his fifth home run of the season.
In that one moment we were transformed, ecstatically jumping up and down and experiencing a joy that I could never imagine happening on that bittersweet afternoon. It was a wonderful feeling that made the day, the trip, our life, seem so right.
And then he left.
I believe in magical moments that happen when I least expect them. The joy—amidst the sadness—that we both experienced that afternoon was a gift, a divine presence. Such moments cannot be planned, or even hoped for. They are gifts that appear and then disappear, just like my son as he drove off that afternoon to start a new chapter in his life.
Jay Hasheider is the proud dad to stepdaughter Gymi Renee and son Nick. He loves numbers and is delighted to share the same birth date with his son and with fellow Missourian, Mark Twain. He agrees with Twain that, “Obscurity and competence is the life that is best worth living.”
Independently produced by Dan Gediman for This I Believe, Inc.
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