I just want to revisit my Ganatchio Trail post quickly by saying, since I posted it, many people, including Matt Baker (frequent commenter and great guy from Windsor living in Red Rock, CA) and my own mother have told me that they have been riding this “hidden” trail for YEARS. Again, I was dumbfounded when I was riding on it, and here I am, a troglodyte imbecile, having missed the obvious for what seems like decades. Too funny! Thanks for all the comments on the posts here…really love them, one and all.
Over a year ago I had tickets to a Blue Jays game in Detroit. It was in April or May sometime, I believe. The game became an afterthought, because I was planning on taking my Dad to see the game. You see, for those not from the area, the Tigers and Blue Jays games are a special rivalry built around nationalism. People who love Canada and Canadian teams, even though they live 20 minutes from the stadium of the Detroit teams, race over to Detroit to fill the stadium with Blue Jay fans. Often times, there are just as many Jays fans as Tiger fans. Yuck.
So this game was going to be a fun one that my Dad was going to want to see. Alas, he was in the hospital at the time, having had a small heart attack, and waiting to get test results etc., to see what the next course of action was going to be. It took weeks. He was in the hospital, waiting, waiting…and nothing. The doctors could not decide what to do with him, because he had already had a quadruple bypass surgery 10 years earlier. They wanted to make the right decision. When they finally made the decision, he was shipped to London, to have yet another bypass surgery done to allow more blood to flow to his heart.
Mission accomplished. We all saw him come out of the surgery, waiving groggily, and we all went to see him afterward, telling him we loved him, wishing him well. We were out of the woods. We all went back to our homes from London, Ontario to Windsor and surrounding areas.
Next morning I get a call early. Dad is in bad shape. Congestive Heart Failure. They did not know it then, but he had a major heart attack during the bypass surgery (there was a 10% chance of this) and he was complaining after the surgery that he was dizzy, exhausted, couldn’t lift his head, and so on. Within a short window of time, the blood work showed his blood was full of markers that indicate a major heart attack during the time of surgery. He quickly faded to unconsciousness and was on a one-way ticket to the great Beyond.
Someone in a decision making place (his surgeon) told the staff at the hospital where my Dad was recovering, “Get him over to University Hospital NOW. I know he’s unstable, and he likely won’t survive the trip here, but get him here, and we’ll operate immediately. It’s the only chance he has.”
The staff did this reluctantly. They feared he would pass on the drive over…as my brother Rodd and my step-mother Eileen were watching him being loaded onto the ambulance, they were told to say goodbye. I mean Good Bye. We got update calls on a cellphone in the van we were riding in as the Windsor family sped toward London, early morning, fearing our father would die while we were in transit. It was the quietest, fastest drive I’ve ever experienced. No radio. Just praying. Crying. Sobbing. Breakdowns. Hugging. Nurturing. Support. Yearning for another moment with Dad.
When we arrived, he was still alive, out of surgery, and hanging on by a thread. Being in Intensive Care (ICU) we were unable to see him all at once. When we did get to see him…he was glossy, bloated, and being kept alive by breathing machines, a host of chemicals, a heart pump, and 24-hour tweaking supervision by Super Nurses.
Without going into the details…my father was going to die. The doctors knew it, the nurses felt it…but it didn’t happen. He fought. He made progress at rates they weren’t expecting.
Flash forward from those weeks in April to September 10, 2007.
My Dad is not only out of the hospital, but he is almost fully recovered mentally, and is making big steps physically. We are together, making our way from the parking lot to Comerica Park to see the Detroit Tigers play the Toronto Blue Jays. It is the make-up for the very game I intended to bring him to in the Spring. I have the same tickets from the day it was supposed to be played on, but I caught wind of a rumour that you needed to have a make-up game ticket, which was to be procured at a MUCH earlier date from the ticket booths located outside of the stadium.
When we arrived, they were not letting people in with the tickets they originally had, and the line to exchange was 200 bodies deep, and was more like a row of plants than a thoroughfare of progress.
We were not happy. The game was starting. They were screwing with my destined game with my death-defying Dad. Suddenly a ticket rep comes into the crowd offering to trade, immediately, “standing room only” tickets for anyone with tickets still to be exchanged. My Dad was not in ANY position to stand for the game. No way. He was still winded from walking at the time. When I yelled to the ticket guy that I was a willing taker, my Dad was not pleased and he seemed worried. I had a plan, something he didn’t know, and I told him we’d be okay, that it was far more important to get into the park.
As we walked, with worthless “standing room only” tickets, I had a back-up. I took another set of tickets, for the exact same seats (as these were PART of a season-ticket package), and headed for the familiar aisle on the first base line. “How are we going to get down there?” my Dad asked me, and I simply told him to stay at the top of the aisle, and I would go get him after I tricked the ticket guy.
I KNEW no one would be in our seats, because the ticket reps do not sell season tickets…as MOST season ticket holders are given “rain out” substitute tickets, which I didn’t even bother to look for…had I brought them, we would have simply walked into the park, and subsequently, our seats.
As I came to the usher, I simply covered the top five-sixths of the ticket, showing ONLY the seat location, and he pointed down the aisle, giving a vague description of where my seats were. I was so elated, that I almost shouted. I knew we were home free.
I walked back past the usher a moment later saying, “My Dad was just behind me, but I lost him up there somewhere, I’ll be right back with him,” making a connection with him, eye contact, coming from the direction of a legitimate ticket holder. This way, when I resurfaced with my Dad in one minute, he would smile and move out of the way for us to take our seats. It was story-book. It worked.
We sat down in our seats, and rejoiced that we simply made it. My Dad was not convinced that we would not get kicked out. I tried to reassure him that no one else held our tickets. They could not be sold.
As the game trickled on into the night, the lights became brighter, our skin cooler, and our hopes bigger. The Tigers could not lose, or they would be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. However, as the 9th inning approached, they were down 3 to 1.
Hope arrived in the form of a lead-off base hit. But the hope was dashed when the next batter grounded into a dreaded double-play. If there weren’t already many Tiger fans gone, they were making their way to the gates. My Dad and I were making comments like, “Well, it was a nice night at least.”
Without warning, and without many pitches wasted, there were a string of hits being put together. Casey, Inge, Granderson, Sheffield walked, Polanco, knocking in runs to tie the game, leaving Magglio Ordonez at bat with a man in scoring position on second base. Two outs.
When the ball headed into the outfield, clearly a base hit, everyone already standing on their feet, I first leapt as if I were skying for a rebound. My keys sprung from my pocket and hit the peanut-littered ground, and I instinctively grabbed my Dad in a bear-hug, his arms wrapping around me, and we jumped, shouted, and screamed for at least ten jumps. We were empowered! We were enthralled! We were experiencing the best baseball game we had ever been to in either of our lives. Keyword: Lives.
We were not just alive, together, but alive inside in a way that the healthiest of body do not often get to experience. It was, and will continue to be, one of the benchmark moments of my life.
Below is a video of my Dad and I at the last game before the All-Star break. The Tigers played the Minnesota Twins, who are ahead of them in the standings, and who had previously beaten them three games in a row. Justin Morneau (Canadian) won the Home Run Derby tonight (Sunday). The Twins are solid. Dad and I went to the game a little late, but we saw Matt Joyce hit a 426-foot home run to go ahead 4-2 in the 8th inning, giving Detroit an insurance run, and a two run lead. It was a fun game, and I got some video of us in Comerica Park, and some commentary to those who have not made it to the stadium yet.