Grandpa leaned forward with hands in prayer-like pose,
the virtual general manager of the reserved lawn chair seating,
an erratic arc of seats that hugged the splintered baseball backstop.
He held court at its center, waving his hands like a carrier seaman
while offering all kinds of advice to fellow little league fans and to the children, too.
We deferred to him, almost babbling for permission to squat in his dusty reserved seat area.
Sporting a miscast Flyer jersey and alabaster beard,
he relished Flyer-type play by his athletic grandsons: the hard slides,
their ignoring their small scale beanings, pretending to be devoid of pain.
He smugly smiled when his grandsons ran like gazelles and played,
always their biggest fan.
One day I noticed the spot reserved for GM Grandpa empty.
The rest of our fan base just sat game-by-game waiting for him to reclaim his perch.
He returned with panache a few weeks later,
speeding into his spot Andretti style, while flooring his motorized chair.
We chatted about his ailment, he downplayed it.
Suddenly, electricity and excitement buzzed throughout our section.
His most seasoned grandson’s bat delivered victory
and the child scooted up behind the screen,
and handed our GM his MVP game ball, wrapped inside the championship banner.
The man rubbed the ball, massaged it, and then kissed both the ball and his grandson.
That cherished moment behind a dusty ball field seemed to invite a wave of tissues.
That night the GM proved a High Flyer.
To me, it appeared one of the few times the man failed in his search for words.
While he hugged the heroic boy, tears rushed into our section.
Granddad pursed his lips, then wrapped his arms around the boy so hard
that the color abandoned his fingers.
Soon after, the Pathfinder left our pack.
He now observes games from heavenly stands,
probably telling nearby angels about his grandsons.
I, for one, will always recall the patchy grass area where his lawn chair
dug in like the determined spikes of a cleanup hitter.
To his grandsons I say,
“The pathfinder will always hover around your fields of dreams.”
You will sense his stepping up to your personal batters boxes and offering encouragement
either thru the murmurs of a soft breeze
or thru pleasant whispers into your dreamy, sleepy-time ears.