Elbowed Out


grapHITe, FINAList, OVERsized

Urgency Day 42

500 Things Items 456-57: Tennis Rackets

  • History: One is ancient, one only 5 years old
  • Value: Originally, around $150
  • Parting pain: Yes and no; read on
  • Un-possessing: Offerings to family

MY mom knows more about sports than YOUR mom!

And yes, you should read that in a taunting, playground voice.

Basketball, golf and tennis? Mom played them. Basketball, golf, and tennis, AND cycling, football, futball, baseball and every Olympic event, summer and winter? Mom follows them, avidly. Rabidly, some would say. When she had her recent second cataract surgery, her biggest concern was that she would be out from under the anesthesia in time to see the fourth-round matches of Wimbledon.

The fourth round. Not even the finals, or quarters, for that matter.

I grew up in a sports-loving family. It goes way back. My father wrote long and beautiful letters to my mom while he was stationed in Korea. Beautiful? I mean that man’s penmanship was stunning. He was taught the famous Palmer method as a kid. Ironically, he became a dentist. But the pharmacists never complained about his handwriting.

The length of the letters, though; that came from his meticulous analysis of every at-bat of his favorite baseball player, Ted Williams.

As a kid, I remember reading his loving descriptions of “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived” and questioning my father about how he was able to pick apart every nuance of every swing merely from hearing the games on the radio.

“Passion, kiddo,” he’d say with a wink.

It was only later, as a young woman with a more seasoned perspective on courtship that it occurred to me: My mother might have enjoyed the same passion being brought to descriptions of missing her as to parsing a game. He did tell her she had great legs, but that would transition into paragraphs about batting stance.

I guess it would have been understandable, if my mom had lost her own passion for sports and everything about them given how much time and energy my father put into sports.

I am so grateful she didn’t. Her enthusiasm is infectious.

Mom and the guys in her life—sons-in-law, grandson, boyfriends, boy friends, random guys in line at the store—always have something to talk about. Often, their talk turns into trash talk, which turns into stakes. Mom loves a dollar bet, just to give watching a little spice. And she collects-– even from her grandson– since she usually wins.

The tennis rackets I am downsizing today leave my possession with wistful pragmatism. I loved playing tennis. I loved peppering puppies and chasing down balls. I did not love losing gracefully. Years ago when my feistiness would test the patience of even my Eagle Scout, my friend Sean didn’t mind my tantrums competitive spirit, and he would play with me on muggy summer nights on the marginally maintained Fredericksburg municipal courts.

But my right elbow ain’t what it was then.

Now, the sport I vigorously pursue allows me to nurture my competitive fire and make peace with my aging elbows. Ah, cycling:  It’s all about the legs.

As my dad would say, I got my mom’s legs.



One Response to “Elbowed Out”

  1. melanie Says:

    In reading your post I realized something: I do NOT throw “tantrums.” I am merely expressing a competitive spirit. I love it!

    What a fun Mom and Dad!

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