Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Like A Virus

The handsome young gentleman in the above picture is my nephew, Grahm. We call him Grahmy.

My brother has decided to allow the majority of the important child-rearing decisions to my sister-in-law. Except one. An extremely important one. Grahm will carry on the tradition of following the Boston Red Sox, like his father, and his father's father, and even his father's father's father, the son of Lithuanian immigrants who passed away in December knowing the family name would be four generations entrenched in America and that the flag would fly over Fenway. He was born with the Red Sox as champions (1915) and died the same way.

He was old enough to remember a Red Sox team before Ted Williams. He saw Teddy Ballgame and Yaz and Jim Rice. He didn't think much of Manny, though. He didn't like players who didn't hustle.

His favorite player on the current squad was Kevin Youkilis, based on reports (I don't know how true) that he's part Lithuanian and also his nose to grindstone playing style.

Grandpa had polio, and his left leg was noticably thinner than his right. He made up for this by working out his upper body, eventually becoming a lifeguard and teaching CPR to enlisted Navy personnel during WWII. His leg had prohibited him from enlisting, so he served in whatever way he could.

He worked as a master tool and die maker, taking only three sick days in a forty-six year career. He worked as a bartender at the local Lithuanian social club, though he never drank himself. He loved raspberries. As in soda, cookies, sherbert, straight out of the carton. Didn't matter.

Oh, and he loved Grahm and the Red Sox.

Here he is with my father (left), my brother (right) and Grahm.

Grahm had a long day, though Grandpa didn't mind. I heard him whispering to Grahm, "You won't remember me, but I'll never forget you." We showed him the hat from the first picture, which caused him to chuckle and offer, "Yup, you gotta start early."

My father stayed behind and watched the rest of the LCS with him, and he kept singing the praises of Youk, pointing his finger, firm and crooked with age, at the TV and repeating, "That's how you play the game."

He died two months later, at ease with the cycles of this world, gently waiting for what lay ahead. But no matter the company or conversation, my father said he'd always shift it back to Grahm. He had other great-grandchildren, but Grahmy was going to carry on the family name.

His love of the Red Sox, however, is up to us.


Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Beautiful story -- and photos!

rgm said...

My grandmother and grandfather were Lithuanians - so I relate to this piece. I very much appreciate the writing. Well done.

By the way, I stumbled across your blog as I researched whether Kevin Youkilis is a Lithuanian. I believe he must be.

Austin, Texas