The game was over, the Chicago Cubs had completed a four game sweep of the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field in Chicago and I was there to witness it with my three granddaughters.
We were walking out and everybody in our group was in the bathroom but me. I paused and shed a few tears while I mumbled a short prayer of thanks, that I was able to share this moment with my family.
My daughter, Sarah, is a Rabbi in California. She and her husband Scott and kids usually come to Chicago once a year. This year she was determined that her children would get the three generation Wrigley Field experience. She studied the schedule and picked out the only day game that would work and bought the tickets online. This was a family, a spiritual and a practical decision on her part, because every year in her most important sermon, the one people literally wait to hear for 12 months, she makes a reference to the Chicago Cubs. It’s part of her signature. She’s been doing it for 13 years, on the most important holiday of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur.
My children understand my relationship with the Cubs is a visceral one. They may not feel it with the fervor of their father, but they experienced it at least vicariously enough to sing baseball songs to me when I was in the hospital waiting for heart surgery seven years ago.
My wife Risa is not a baseball fan. She is indifferent to the Cubs, but through our 45 years of marriage she has respected my commitment to the team. She wanted to be at the Wrigley Field game with Sarah and Scott and the kids. (One of the great things about Sarah’s marriage to Scott is that he is from Chicago too and a lifelong Cubs fan, so the kids are purebreds).
The seven of us packed into a rented Ford van and headed to the ballpark. The girls had never been to a Major League park, but the older ones, 10 and 7, understood the game and Orli, the 5-year-old, had some sense of the event from TV experience and going to a minor league game in San Jose.
It was a perfect day for baseball and we settled into our seats, 20 rows above third base. The game was a pitchers’ duel with the Cubs taking a 2-0 lead early and clinging to it until the 9th inning. Joe Maddon, the Cubs manager, brought his closer, Hector Rondon, into the game. Rondon immediately got into trouble, loading the bases with nobody out. It was the kind of game a fan of the Cubbies knew in his heart of hearts would end badly.
But these are the new Cubs of 2015 and there is magic with this team. Rondon proceeded to strike out the side with no runs scoring and amazingly the Cubs beat the World Champion Giants to sweep the four game series.
Everybody was standing during the crazy 9th inning and continued to sing and sing again, Go Cubs Go, the theme song when they win. It was thrilling and chilling. The girls were enthralled by the sheer energy of the moment amidst 40,000 fans who stayed way past the end. Even Risa got into it and kept saying to us all how much she enjoyed the game.
Sure, it was only a game, an orchestrated moneymaking event, if you want to be cynical, but for the seven of us who were lucky enough to be present at Wrigley that Sunday it was a beautiful moment that would tie the generations together.
I had gone to Cub games in my youth with my Mom who had gone to games with her father. Through the years it became one of our favorite ways to communicate, as we discussed what was happening with the team.
Recently my son-in-law Scott called me at 11pm to rejoice in a Kyle Schwarber game winning homer. One of these days I hope one of my granddaughters will make that call. When the Cubs-Giants game ended and the music stopped, I was grateful to pause and rejoice in the moment. We never get enough special moments like that when three generations weave together in such exquisite joy.
Question: What activity ties the generations of your family together?