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Moms and Baseball: One Son's Story

Role reversal 

Three years ago our roles completely reversed.  After my father's death, Mom, who has been suffering from Parkinson's disease for many years, came to live with us in Reston, Virginia.  For the past 3 years I, along with the rest of my family, have been mothering Mom.  It truly became a part time job with doctor's visits; sometimes 3-4 a week and major medical problems requiring hospital stays.  With Parkinson's, prescription management is vital down to 5 or 10 minutes of when you must take your doses. As the disease progresses, it isn't uncommon to have to take medications 5 times a day.

During this time people would tell me what a great job my family was doing with our mom. I always felt a little embarrassed about that.  Not only was it our honor, it was, in fact, our duty.  I've learned a lot about growing old by taking care of Mom the past few years. Being alone and failing in health is very lonely and very frightening. You are no longer able to do the things you used to be able to do.  Parkinson's can often, and in mom's case did, lead to dementia.  As that set in it was hard for her to talk. You must depend on your children and grand children for those essential services. That is not easy for moms.

In March (2006) Mom had to move to an assisted living home where there would be 24 hour care for her.  She would not have to negotiate the stairs in our house. That was very difficult and emotional for both of us but we adjusted because we had to, there was no other option. As it turned out (as many advisers said) it became a very good option.

The good old days

During that time, we went back to the old days.  My sister, in North Carolina, would call and remind Mom when the Yankee games were on TV.  And during our visits we would sit and not talk a lot because, at this point, Mom's ability to put cohesive sentences together was difficult. But it was clear to both of us that we were sharing an unmistakable bond; as we had for so many years by watching a baseball game.

During a recent visit, we did watch a game. I don't know what game it was. I can't remember who was playing or what the score was, but I just know we were together watching a ball game.  As I left I turned the TV off and she said she was going to take a nap. As usual, I instructed her not to fall asleep in the recliner, but to get up and go to her more comfortable bed, because it was difficult when I wasn't there for her to get out of a laid back recliner. So she said, "oh yes, oh yes."  I kissed her on the forehead and left.

Remembering mom

On Saturday, July 29, 2006, Mom died suddenly.  It took less than 45 minutes from the time the call came in until the time I met the ambulance at the hospital.  I had recently made a trip in an ambulance with her and had been by her bedside quite often in the past few years.  I was prepared with a funny story to ease her tension. But as the ambulance door opened, I knew that she was released from the virtual straight jacket that Parkinson's enveloped her in.  I knew immediately that she was with my father and all her relatives that truly defined her life.  She was the youngest of seven and the only living member of her generation.

At our Springfield Baseball Academy's grand opening celebration, Thanksgiving weekend of 2005, with Mom present, we had dedicated our Academy in her honor. 

None of us would have been there to carry on the baseball tradition, enlarge the baseball family, and honor the game, if she had not played catch with me on the front lawn in Teaneck, NJ so many years ago.

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John Pinkman is President of Pinkman Baseball Academies in Springfield, Virginia.  The day after his mom died, he went to work to teach baseball because it was his duty and his mom would have wanted him to.  He dictated this article on the way to work.  MomsTeam is pleased to reprint it with only minor editing.  John can be reached at john22@pinkmanbaseball.com.