Step into the cornfield

By Mark Carpenter – 

It went way too fast. Way too fast. About this time on Saturday afternoon, I will be a hot mess and I don’t mind admitting it. Sometime that afternoon, my son will walk across the stage and accept his diploma from Mount St. Joseph University and I will officially have to cut the cord for the second time. I’m not ready for that. I have written numerous times about my son in this column and always seemed to get a positive response from the readers. I guess you guys love him as much as I do.
I know many parents out there are going through the same thing that I am, finding the word “last” used over and over again. On Sunday, we made our last trip to his dorm room to start the loading up and moving out process, and I wasn’t ready for that either but I made it through. To all of the young people that are graduating from high school and college in the next few weeks, their lives are just beginning, but us old parents, we look at things with a much different perspective. We’re not ready to give them up just yet, but we know they need their time to fly. Recently, we had a mother robin hatch two eggs just off our back deck and she guards them fiercely each time that we walk anywhere near her babies, but there will soon come a time when she, just like Opie, will have to let them fly off on their own. I guess it’s time for me to let my boy fly off on his own, but I hope he doesn’t forget where Dad is when he needs him.
When you have two kids, and we are so lucky that they love and take care of each other, they often turn out as opposites and that is the case with ours. Kelsey was always the outgoing, talk to everyone, bubbly personality type, while Jordan was the quiet, keep more to himself kid. Kelsey hasn’t changed a bit, she can still talk your arm off, but college has made such a positive impact on Jordan. He was one of those kids who needed to get away and meet new people and make new friends and the Mount gave him that opportunity. I know he had fun at college, probably too much at times, but there aren’t many of us who wouldn’t want the chance to re-live our college years, the old “if I knew then what I knew now.”
I have a frame on my desk here at work that has one of my favorite sayings on it, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” With Jordan, those moments are etched in my mind forever and the biggest percentage of them center around one thing-baseball- and those memories have come flooding back to me all this week. How about the time he was having problems fielding pop flies at second base, so we offered him 20 bucks if he caught one in a game? The picture is still on our fridge, with the caption, “Hey, I just earned 20 bucks.” Or the time that he misplayed a pop up at second base in a city tournament and sat by me on the bench with tears in his eyes, thinking he had cost his team that game. He didn’t, we won in a walk off. Or the time that I got really upset with our team after a game and when we got to the car, he told me that I better never act like that again. Learned my lesson there.
Jordan was different on the baseball field. He wasn’t into winning every game and all that glory that today’s parents think they have to have, he just wanted to have fun and enjoy the game. I am sure he will remember when he took a Kyle Taylor fastball off his hand in his senior year and we though his high school career was over, but he came back and gave me another priceless memory when he got the walk off hit in his team’s first sectional tournament game. I will never forget the joy in his face as he stepped on first base and it seemed like all the crap he had dealt with to get to that point just vanished away. Or as we sat on Monday night at Great American Ball Park and he reminded me that his all-time favorite moment was being there when Todd Frazier won the Home Run Derby in 2015. We were there Monday night, enjoying diamond seats as his graduation gift from his sister, and it was kind of a fitting climax to his college day. And the Mets won which made it even better for him.
Now it is time for him to take on the real world and all of its every day challenges. There was a time a few years ago that I would have never dreamed him being at this point, but I guess now I will give him all the credit for making me one proud Dad. He has overcome, and he has prospered, and his mother and I can’t ask for anything more. I have no clue what his future holds, hopefully it revolves around baseball, but wherever he goes and whatever he does, he should always know that I am his #1 fan. A few texts every day about baseball keeps this old man feeling pretty happy. And he has become a pretty good writer and photographer, traits he no doubt inherited from his mother.
In one of the final scene of the baseball classic “Field of Dreams”, the Terrence Mann character, played by James Earl Jones, gets the opportunity to walk into the mysterious cornfield on that baseball diamond in Iowa, and he does so with a great big smile on his face. Well Jordan, it is your turn to step into that cornfield. The mysteries of life await you when you do, and your biggest fan will be right behind you all the way, but with just one request. I sure would like another game of catch.