I can still hear her voice from the stands.
“C’mon Chris! You can do it!”
Her words echoed across the field, the ping from the aluminum stands from eager feet shuffling as she moved to the edge of her seat. The sounds of the early game behind her wafting over to our diamond; the cheers, the sound of the ump, and the crack of a bat. Someone else’s kid just got a hit and now it was my turn.
I wasn’t sure I could do it but, there in the stands, was always mom.
She always has been my biggest fan; it’s a rite of passage as a parent to root your children on. My mom still cheers for me in everything I do and the greatest lesson she has taught me is to be generous with encouraging words. When I was full of doubt, she was there with confidence. When I lacked faith, she helped me believe. When I was down, she knew how to lift me up. When scared, she made me courageous. That’s the power of my mom.
“Nice and easy swing. Just make contact,” she said.
I dug in and waited for the pitch.
When the pitcher squared with a full count, eager to strike me out and head to the Snack Shack for an after game Mr. Pibb, I knew I could hit this ball. I believed in myself.
When I saw him deliver the ball, it looked like a watermelon. I saw it floating to me like the ball was on a lazy river on summer break.
I crushed it.
The ball sailed out of the park and onto the tennis courts behind the field. I had hit my first home run.
My mom went wild.
I ran the bases and pumped my fist like Kirk Gibson. It was my first and only home run of my life. The game was over and they gave me the game ball. I never received one again.
“I knew all along that you could do it, I’m so proud of you,” she said after the game. No reward is ever greater. Not even a home run game ball.
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