Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In Memoriam

I was very saddened - heartbroken - to find out that the wife of a very good blog buddy, Skip O'Brien, passed away today. Sharon (Grandma Skip, as she was known on his blog) passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

 Skip & Sharon in the Public Gardens in Boston - Make Way for Ducklings statues

My only physical meeting with these two lovely and loving people came on a softball diamond in Boston. When you consider that they lived in the San Francisco area, it becomes an odd story that speaks for their willingness to go out of their way to give someone a nice little thrill.

It was 2012. My Sunday fast-pitch team, the Bombers, were in the playoffs. We were involved in the semi-final series against our arch rivals, the Titans. You have to understand my mindset when I get on a softball diamond. I'm focused on the game. Whatever other people are around will register in my mind, but generally in an off-hand way only. Near the end of the first game, I noticed a few people in the little stands behind home plate. I thought to myself that it was nice some folks who enjoyed softball had come out to see our games that day, but I didn't think I recognized any of them.

Between games, I looked at the people again. I thought I had seen Big Jay Atton chatting up two of them and I wondered if they might be related to the Attons in some way. As I looked at this man and woman sitting there, they both gave me big smiles. I smiled back. I turned away, but then something finally clicked inside my pea brain and I turned back to look again. They must have seen the light dawning on marblehead and the semi-confused look on my mug. They both laughed, most especially the man with the big mustache. Then it all came together. I was looking at folks known, on Skip's blog, as Uncle Skip and Grandma Skip.

 The best fans we had in 2012

See, I knew they were going to be in Boston on a vacation trip, but our plans to meet up had been bollixed by some extreme car trouble I had that week. Undaunted, and knowing I was playing ball that Sunday morning, they made the trip from their hotel in downtown Boston - via two trains and two buses, I believe, and then a rather healthy walk - to Smith Field in Brighton where the games were. And then they just sat there patiently, watching the games and not bothering my game face, until I recognized them.

It is definitely the farthest anyone has traveled to see my sorry ass play ball. I was extremely touched by the trouble they went to do this nice thing.

After the games were over - we had our asses handed to us that day, I'm sorry to say; I would have loved some better examples of our play for some people who came so far to see us - Sharon was kind enough to take some shots of the team and of me with a good friend.

 I'm disgustingly drenched in sweat here, but Skip insisted I put my arm around his shoulders.

Bombers, 2012 (photo by Sharon O'Brien)

I gave them a ride back to their hotel after the games, but since I was so sweaty and nasty I declined an invite for lunch. What I wouldn't give for an hour over a nice meal with her now...

God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth,
Your providence guides our lives,
and by Your command we return to dust.

Lord, those who die still live in Your presence,
their lives change but do not end.
I pray in hope for my friend, Sharon, and her loving husband, Skip.

In company with Christ,
Who died and now lives,
may she rejoice in Your kingdom,
where all our tears are wiped away.


Hilary said...

I am so sorry that you lost such a sweet friend. My thoughts go out to your blogging buddy and his family.

Eddie Bluelights said...

A great loss, Jim.
. . . and so sorry for Skip - it is such a sad time for him to live through. May God bless him.

Yes it is always a great loss to lose one's wife.
You are so caring Jim and have such a big heart.
I am sure our Father in Heaven loves you a lot ~ Eddie

Buck said...

What I said at the Bombers website.

Daryl said...


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you were able to meet her at least once. Prayers for Skip and his family!

Michelle H. said...

Cherish the memories of meeting them.

Jackie said...

Heartfelt condolences to Skip and his family.

messymimi said...

Please accept my condolences for the loss of your friend. My heart goes out to you and Uncle Skip.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

GS would be humbled by the outpouring of the past few days.

I guess I am, too, just not as much.
I have an ego.

Thanks to everyone who has expressed their condolences.

A special thank you to Suldog for sharing his eloquence regarding My Wife, Sharon.

Suldog said...

No problem being eloquent when someone does something eloquent for me, Skip. That's what you and Sharon did. I'm just reporting it as it happened.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful and touching tribute! Despite the sadness of this post you inspired me to incorporate the word bollixed.

what can I say? I live in a small, small world. Tee hee.

Condolences to Uncle Skip. Cancer truly sucks the life out of its victim and all his/her family, loved ones, and friends. My heart goes out to you Uncle Skip.

Me, a metastatic breast cancer survivor.

Suldog said...

Quirky! It is SO good to hear from you again. Where have you been? How is life treating you? I hope you are having a good stretch... Catch me up, please (or I'll see if your profile here links to a blog...)

Brighton Pensioner said...

Well said, Jim. I am lucky enough to have had much more time than you with this lovely lady.

Shammickite said...

What a terrific couple, coming to watch you in action on the ball diamond, I am so glad that you got to meet them. My sympathy goes out to Skip, and the rest of his family. It's hard to comprehend such a loss.

Tabor said...

Are we not blessed by those special people who touch our lives from across the blogosphere? Sorry for you and for those who knew her.

Babs said...

I briefly remember this when they came in town from a blog past.
I'm sorry to hear of this and what a nice prayer….

Angela Christensen said...

Some stuff I love (and I'm guessing I'm not alone here):

The Kindness of (we-almost-were-but-are-not-by-the-grace-of-the-blogosphere) Strangers. Especially when "kindness" is an inadequate descriptor.

Love of The Game (Baseball. Softball. Whichever works for you).

Fine, honest, unpretentious writing.

Most of all, I love the unexpected ripple effect by which circles spin out and contain us so that, surprised, we find ourselves loosely - but undeniably - bound.

I send thoughts of love and light and healing to Uncle Skip and all those who will feel diminished by the loss of "GS", forever. "All those", of course, is code for "all us", by extension.

To you, Suldog, simple thanks. I am grateful for you as a writer, a blogger, a connector. And a friend.