Monday, September 19, 2005




"Diagonals"

There was of course a time when Ben was a healthly, carefree, normal kid. A boy who loved watching his favorite shows, enjoyed many friends, was very active athletically, an average student who could have done better had he applied himself more; all in all, a not untypical child growing up with two loving parents, in a nice suburban neighborhood with excellent schools and an abundance of communiy activities, one of which was 't-ball'. Now I dare say there are not many parents who have not had their own 't-ball' experiences. Indeed, Ben, his mom and I had ours! Remember what Art Linkletter used to say? That kids say the "darndest" things. Certainly true, but they do the "darndest" things as well! As parents, it is always our wish that our kids really shine; how much we want that they succeed! And when they do, it is nothing less than "nachesdik" (yiddish for that parental feeling of joy and pride upon watching their kid hit a homer or their miniature ballerina curtsey with beauty and grace.)
Well, Ben neither curtsied nor hit the homer, but it was once his turn to bat in what I do believe was his first t-ball game on the grounds of the Robert Crown Center in Evanston, Illinois. It was a summer sunday, a beautiful day, and the crowd had appropriately turned out to witness their darlings' initiation into youth baseball. Ben, I would guess, wanted not only to succeed but in a big way as well! I recall his very wonderful face as he strode up to the plate, both transfixed and twisted with determination! The ball was set upon the "t", his mom and I cheered him on; he swung and that ball let go! It flew! "Run Ben! Run!!!!! And he did ... DIAGONALLY, over the pitcher's mound, right to second base! I mean after all it was such a good hit ... why bother going to first? Despite all failed attempts to shout him back, a double he was determined to get by hook or crook! It was simply and unbelievably hilarious! A moment in Ben's and our lives unburdened, wonderful and innocent!
Postscript: A Glimpse Forward in Time
The things we do for our children-whether they be right or wrong, misguided or "right on the money"- often reaffirm the truism that as parents we do do the "darndest things." It is probably best attributed to our "nesting" instinct-that as parents our first obligation is to protect our children-to enable them not only to defend and protect themselves but also to keep them out of harm's way-both when they are still very young but even after having done some growing up. So it was that I tried to interest Ben in playng hockey with a group of Jewish men-one of whom I knew from my synagogue. They weren't so much a team as simply a group of guys who enjoyed the "rough and tumble" of ice hockey. "Perfect!" I thought for Ben: skating at which he had always excelled, hard checking against the boards, slap shots ... what could be better? Problem was that this group practiced twice a week at 10:00 pm., but for several weeks, Ben and I went-he played, I watched and on occasion fell asleep in the stands. Unhappily it did not last beyond two months or so, but back to my motive for a bit. How was this an example of my "nesting" instinct? Ben had always been very athletically oriented-I was purposely trying to show him ways by which he might maximize his strengths with the added benefit that more regular physical exertion would serve him well as a diabetic. Secondly, I was trying to demonstrate that there were other "friends choices" out there which a least, I thought, were more wholesome than those whom at that time were Ben's "friend choices"! The bottom line? Whenever I tried to choose for Ben-no matter how parentally pure my motive-it failed! He invariably reverted to his choices. Interestingly, Ben's mom used to say of Ben that he had always been a very cautious child-even from his earliest years. The kind of person who carefully surveys a new situation, looking it over ... scrutinizing it in an attempt to determine if it was right for him. All well and good, one might say! Deliberate, cautious in his moves, like playing chess with life itself. However, as parents-no matter how much we may both encourage and applaud self-reliance, a "stand-up" approach-it is often a heartbreaker to see-that despite the fact that we do know better ... life having taught us-our children, eager and detemined to exercise their autonomy, end up making poor choices, their own choices true enough but poor ones nevertheless!

8 comments:

randi said...

Alan,
Beautiful! Absolutely Beautiful!
I love "The Story of Ben".
I have not experienced the pain of losing a child but my heart breaks for you, as it did the first time I read Ben's story.
Please publish your writings.

lgvernon said...

Dear Alan~~~Thanks again for ponting me to your blog. I cannot tell you how moving this all is. I wish that everyone who operates a motor vehicle was required to read your moving prose.

I'm with Randi, and fervently hope you have the opportunity to turn these writings into a book.

With Love said...

Dear Alan,

The comment feature works when I click on the link you sent me by email, but not when I click on the "Comments" link on the blog itself.

I agree that we need to let children make their own choices, but that it's sometimes painful to watch them choose "wrong." Most, though, eventually learn from their bad choices - if they are given the privilege of a normal life-span. Your Ben and my Timmi never did get to see "eventually," but they shine in our memory despite all the human mistakes they made while they were here with us.

By the way, thanks for your comment to my own most recent post - you added some lovely thoughts.

Sara

Tpick24 said...

Alan,

Your story touched my heart. I thank you so much for sending me the link. I look so forward to hearing more about your sweet Ben :)

Tammy

Diana said...

Alan -- So moving...my heart goes out to you and your family. I cannot begin to imagine the pain of your loss. Writing about your memories and feelings about Ben will keep him alive in the hearts of all who knew and loved him and will enlighten those of us who didn't have the pleasure. I look forward to reading more and more.

Pesky said...

I knew you could do it. :)

Pamela

Anonymous said...

There is no word to describe the pain of losing a child...absolutely not. I just want to say that what i respect the most in a human being is his/her capability to generate and give in an inconditional way that kind of love. Ben is a lucky child, and notice that i don't talk in past. He IS lucky kid , because he just have a wonderful father who has chosen the hard path of keeping alive his memory, instead of adopting the easier and usually more recommended way of trying to forget. Forget...what a disrespectful advice. Thanks, Ben's dad, for chosing ur son...KEEP GOING...

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you very much for your time spent reading the blog and your kind words in response.

Alan