The last time I got my hopes up for a New York Mets game in April was back in 2009 because I was going to be in New York for the Mets home opener, which happened to be their first game at the then brand new Citi Field.
My father called me a few days before I left LA for NY to tell me that he scored us a pair of tickets to the game even though it had been sold out for months. He had a knack for obtaining hard to get items and a reputation for not revealing how so I didn’t ask any questions. It was a new season, a new park and my father, who is responsible for my being a Mets fan, was taking me to the game. This was as good as life could get when it came to baseball. There was no reason to ask any questions.
Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the game. The tickets fell through because the person tasked with delivering the tickets traded them for drugs. This is sometimes the cost of doing business with friends and family. I was disappointed and so was my father. At the time the ticket problem felt like a bad end to a trip home.
My father apologized for what had happened and invited me to join him at his favorite bar to watch the game. His favorite bar happened to be the VFW Hall where he was inexplicably a member despite having never served in the armed forces…I didn’t ask how, the explanation would only lead to more questions that I’d never get answers to.
We sat over a few beers and enjoyed the first few innings. A few days earlier we had sat in the same bar and had a long conversation. That talk was the reason I had come home. After years of being distant from one another he and I had settled into a comfortable groove with one another. The change began when I got married in 2007 and just kept getting better. When he asked me when I’d come home so we could catch up in person I booked a flight. I was very surprised and happy to be sitting at a bar with my father, finally clearing the air and talking about regrets as well as our mutual desire to get past them and be closer from then on.
After a few inning we decided to head home to watch the rest of the game. When we arrived at the house there was plenty of ballgame left and beer in the fridge. The Mets fell behind early and lost the game but that didn’t matter. After 34 years of misunderstandings and missed opportunities we were finally just talking like two people who actually liked one another. We talked baseball, comedy and family and eventually stopped paying attention to the Mets.
When the game ended we stayed up a little while longer talking about the future. There was more to talk about but he had to work early the next morning and I had to catch a flight back to Los Angeles so we said goodnight and goodbye.
The next morning my father was gone before I got up to leave. I sat in the airport unsure when I’d be back but I hoped that whenever I did we’d finally get to a game.
Eventually I made it to Citi Field but, instead of going with my father I went with a friend. As it turned out, that Mets home opener in April 2009 would be the last game I would see with my father; in October of that year he passed away. From my perspective it was shocking but in retrospect I should have seen it coming because I now believe that he knew he was running out of time.
It’s been three years since that night and I am no longer disappointed that we didn’t get to that game. Instead, I’m grateful that we got to stay at home talking about more important things. While it wasn’t the last time we spoke it was the last time we saw each other. Things didn’t happen the way we had planned, they rarely did, but they still turned out okay.