Monthly Archives: June 2012

Huddled in the Dark

Here’s to hoping that one man’s struggles can help out another
I share these thoughts as my cure and to help my fellow sister or brother
I sit here and let my mind go to the places where I once have been
My eyes water at my humble story looking back to where I was then
How can this that’s so familiar be so foreign and so wrong?
It’s our weakness that the angel of darkness depends upon
Herding us into the dark, unknown depths of the other side
The sort of places we wouldn’t visit but there we now reside
I was one of them, the folks huddled in the shadows of dark places
Standing alone, but alongside those who’d rather not show their faces
Thoughts, like dares from an unknown source, shattered my routine
Human, my weakness, took the invite, to see places I hadn’t seen
I thought the thoughts that just the month before were forbidden
Then proceeded to run past the meanings of things previously hidden
I ran so fast with barely a clue as to where I wanted to arrive
Thanks to God somehow I made it through that time alive
Somehow the sun rose each day presenting a 50/50 proposition
I had zero control over the days outcome, paralyzed by every decision
My rock bottom, seemed to contend each day with a point lower than then
There’s only so many bottoms to hit before it’s over or you’re on the mend
And so I went from day-to-day, week to week, before the pain built,
To a point I could no longer stand, action forced by the weight of guilt.
If you are out there, huddled in the dark, looking to the skies for your way
Find God a midst the mess and the single ray of light will come if you pray
It’s funny how clear this is when you think on Him for a second or two
The beauty portrayed by the dark angel can make you look the fool
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, that’s true
But a single thought to move in a new direction is required too
You can do it, no matter where you are and how far you’ve gone
God is there beside you, he’s here too, and for all of us he sent His Son.
Stop. Put yourself aside for a moment. Let the false picture fade away.
It will and you’ll wonder too, why it was so hard to see the gorgeous day. 
Just because your direction has been reversed it doesn’t ensure peace
Scenes from the movie you just left will pull at you, when prayers cease
It probably felt pretty easy getting to this dark land of despair
But, walking with God is the fastest way of getting out of there
Religion?!?! ?You may scoff. But without it; Where were you? Totally lost.
I was too. And only God can figure out how much that must have cost
So, kneel and pray. Put your thoughts aside as they have done no good
Let the Light lead the way. It can be done. Stand where the brave have stood
If you’re not sure where that place might be, look to the heavens and see
Because the God that walked with me, is there for you, and will always be
The journey never really ends, but the more Light you let in, the better it gets
Steps that seemed so impossible now move as if powered by jets
Welcome back, we missed you in the place you hid. If you don’t think so
Then just ask yourself, would you direct your child in this way to go?
Live each day. Enjoy. Breathe. Pray and embrace what comes each day
We don’t always get it, but God does work in mysterious ways.

Remember when now was a memory?

Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was the grey.
Or maybe it was just that kind of day.
Uneasy followed me closer than my own shadow.
I tried forcing a smile while thinking on tomorrow.
In the quieter times of evening I longed to get away.
Searching, I found a familiar place where I often stay.
I retreated to the sounds inside my old headphones.
Tears dotted my cheeks like the trace of skipping stones.
A recurring thought played in my mind, only every goodbye.
I was going through all of them, while wondering why.
For as long as I can recall I avoided and disliked the ends.
Times when moments ceased, seasons finished, or farewell to friends.
The last day of school was a battle I lost in the silence of night.
I would think on my mates and the times that would never again be this right.
Summer camp somewhere in Maine would wind down, and in my bunk
I would lay awake hoping it wouldn’t end, but my heart was nearly sunk.
The right movie, at the right time, and I would hope the reel kept rolling.
Slouched in a seat, the shadows hiding the lump in my throat, self-consoling.
Feeling all grown up, expected to leave, but knowing I wanted to stay.
I left my home, dreading the thought it would never be, again this way. 
Please time, please stand still, there’s more in this moment that I need.
When it’s gone it all has changed, for better or worse, but gone indeed.
Thoughts often drift back to, my kids, and time we thought would always last.
It seems like I turned around to check on life, and it was gone so fast.
Maybe selfish, and slightly insecure, I listen to the songs and let the tears out.
Just then the calm and peace my Lord bestows on me is what it’s all about.
Before I let this moment pass and move on to the now awaiting me.
I listen to these songs, cry some more, and remember where I need to be.
Now we all have songs tucked away that unleash emotion that wasn’t here.
Then the note plays, and the lyrics go right through us like a harmless spear.
For me, it’s like this, I want to make sure I get it all before it disappears.
That’s why I can’t get through it dry-eyed, when I play The Living Years.
Pain beckons, and my heart pounds a bit faster, when all was just fine,
When I stop and listen to, then focus on, the lyrics in the song, Time.
It was myself I didn’t know, not you, I hurt too many in years gone by.
Thoughts, thick with remorse, run through my head during Jealous Guy.
This one sums it up pretty well, it’s a song with a meaning unmistakable.
Tears still roll whenever I hear Harry Chapin’s, Cats in the Cradle.
Warmth swells and I’m taken back to dear relationships ended too soon.
That’s where I go even now, when I drift away with Desert Moon.
The fun is all gone, love is done, new friends leave, summer had to fly.
A pang of emotion always accompanies the appropriately titled Goodbye.
Honestly, this song plays in my head any time I’m away from my love.
I lie in bed somewhere and close my eyes only thinking on my bride so true.
Like an angel hand-picked just for me, sent from heaven above, 
Amaris I long to be next to you, where ever I may be, I am Here Without You.

Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day today. One of my favorite days of the year really. I am fortunate to be a dad myself. Today isn’t about me though, it’s about my dad, and all the real dad’s out there. It’s not difficult to father a child, most any guy can do that. However, being a father, being a dad, that takes time, effort, patience, perseverance, and belief in something greater than yourself. For me, and for many, that something greater is God. I know there are millions of dads out there who, like me, believe in God, trust in Him, and have prayed often, just to keep our dad heads above water.

Fathers get their instructions in fatherhood passed down to them from their fathers. Each of them also brings their own experience and observation to the position of dad. My dad learned from his dad, and he’s done the best he could do with the tools he has. I know now, that there is only so much that can be prepared for or practiced for, the rest is based on who and how you are, and the support you have around you.

Hey, we are guys. Men. Many of the stereotypes are true. Some are not. We are also fathers. As a man and father, I have made more mistakes than I would care to admit. I’m sure a lot of fathers have.

Fathers though, they show up. They are there when needed. They know how important it is to be the example for their own flesh and blood. They love every way they know how to love, maybe they even learn new ways to love based on the needs of fatherhood. They won’t take no for an answer if it’s the right thing for their kids. They won’t be denied. Fathers continue to parent, believe, nurture, love, and teach, even when they’d rather be doing anything else. They know when to run, when to stand firm, when to laugh, when to lead, and when to cry. And if they don’t know, they learn. They teach their kids the right ways to do things. They teach their kids the logical ways to look at things, and make good decisions. They deliver discipline even if it breaks their own hearts to do so. They love and care more, than they, often times, even know how to express. They would give the shirt off their back, and always know how and when to be polite, respectful, and show proper manners. They are strong and seemingly unafraid, at least as far as their kids are concerned. Fathers are afraid too, but they still go, they check things out, they protect, they lead, that’s what father’s do. They are accountable and responsible. They respectfully trust their own broad shoulders more than anyone else’s, again, especially as it relates to their own kids. Father’s are their own men. They leave their own signature. They pursue their dreams, while carving their legacy, and supporting their kids dreams. They live for the moments when they are present, participating, and among those they’ve fathered. These are the real fathers.

All the things listed above are the same reasons why I can’t understand how some men who father children never show up for the most important job they could ever hold. Pointing the finger directly at myself, I have missed way too many times as a dad in my own experience. Still, many who have fathered, don’t ever show up, or are only willing to contribute if it’s convenient enough to do so. Like, many things though, the true rewards of fatherhood are hard to come by, and certainly are not convenient. Most any father, can be a real father, a dad, but many had no intention to do so, and never will. Excuses kick in, rewards are hidden by risks, and fatherhood never happens. Time marches on and any father who knows he’s a father also knows where he should be. Still, many don’t show. Selfish and caught up in some version of the truth they sell themselves, some who father, stand idly by, pretending not to care, or portraying themselves as some victim of anti-fatherhood fiction. In some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that we sometimes wish would turn out differently, these could be real fathers virtually disappear in a haze of guilt and self-pity, while their own flesh and blood grow, live, learn, and wonder. These men don’t embody the behaviors listed above. They don’t value the principles involved. They don’t understand for some reason, or they choose to ignore the responsibilities that could lead them to the greatest moments of their lives. They are not real fathers.

My father was and is a real father. I love my dad. He was given instruction too, but the instruction he gave, had a completely different feel. He put his signature on being dad, and he still does. My dad
lived on the lighter side of serious. He could be serious, don’t get me wrong, but he’d rather laugh, enjoy, and be at peace with life. My dad was athletic, he could play anything. I’m pretty sure that had he wanted to really pursue any sport seriously, he would have been exceptional in any that he took up. He supported us playing sports and still enjoys his grandchildren participating in sports. My dad told jokes, wasn’t afraid to be himself, and he still does.

My dad taught me how to throw a ball. He taught me to properly shoot a basketball. He taught me how to use a baseball glove. He played catch with me, and shot hoops with me. He took me for rides and listened to the thousands of questions I would ask. He didn’t need to have all the answers, and I didn’t care if he did because I just wanted to be the cool kid riding with his dad. My dad taught me to respect the Word of God, to pray, and to better understand the lessons in both. He taught me to give and to be generous. He taught me to respect others and to learn manners. He taught me that laughing and seeing humor in things were good things. My dad told me about his boyhood heroes and those whom he respected through his adult life. He told me stories of Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams. He took me to my first Red Sox game, and many more. He taught me how to score a game in the program. He pointed out things I wouldn’t have seen or learned for myself. I was happy to be at his side, no matter what we were doing.

Later on, when I obviously knew more than he did, and I was too cool to be hanging with my dad, he still showed up. He still watched me pitch, or he watched me play basketball. I don’t remember him ever needing to be the center of any of that attention, he was just there because I was his son. He was always so proud of what any of us kids accomplished. He still is. I’m pretty sure his favorite moments in life were the times he bragged on about us kids. He told anyone who would listen what we were doing, or what we had accomplished. I also learned this from my dad as nothing brings me more joy than seeing my kids perform, compete, or accomplish. Then I can share, and brag on them.

My dad taught me more things than I could ever count, or even remember. He will always be my dad, and no one, or no thing could ever take that away. We don’t get to pick our parents. Thank God for that. I have exactly the right parents, the right dad. Being a father myself, I know that I’ll always mean more to him than I could ever convey that he means to me. That may sound bad, but if you’re a parent you know. That said, I love my dad. He means the world to me, he’s my dad. He was and is present. He showed up. He took on his role and led his family whether he knew what to do or not. My dad gave of himself for the betterment of his kids as all real fathers do. He did what he had to do whether he was afraid or not.

Nowadays some of my favorite moments are still spent at my dad’s side, talking, joking, laughing, and enjoying each others company. Today I will see my dad a little later this afternoon. I’m looking forward to it. Happy Father’s Day Dad! You’re a real father and I’m so thankful for that. Thank you for all the moments throughout my lifetime when you did as you had to or as you knew to. I know it’s not easy, but thank you for being a real father. I love you.

Twins and green grass

Yesterday the twins and I made a stop at the airport as we often do. This time we went to a different location alongside a long runway that runs East-West. This place has a larger area for the twins to play, without leaving the comfort of soft, green grass. We were up on a little hill that looks down over the airport, and since the airport property was to our south and west, there was a large open space in front of us. Our perch offered no wind break as the breezes gathered steam across the open areas and lifted gently up the hillside into our faces. We loved it. The breeze, or winds, were out of the south for the most part. It was warm enough for the kids and just cool enough on the top of the hill to be very comfortable.

Theodore and Jacqueline loved the open space. They ran, marched, jumped, and rolled around. They played their own private games of ring around the rosy. The part they loved the most was when they would fall down. They assessed every little thing that could have been a bug, even if it wasn’t actually a bug. They counted lady bugs in the grass, and were sure to say good-bye to the lady bugs when we left. They took some much needed breaks to grab their drinks that were sitting just inside the open sliding door of our minivan. They listened for the planes. They watched the planes and even saw a helicopter. They were mesmerized by the large garbage truck that came close to our spot. Both of them had reactions of awe as the dumpster was lifted high into the air and dumped into the truck. It was pretty funny to watch them react. Naturally, once the dumpster was back on the ground, Theodore said, “again”.

We were at this place for slightly more than an hour. There was plenty of fresh air to go around. Snacks and drinks were close by but took a backseat to the open space, soft, green grass, and the surprise of loud plane engines every once in awhile. It was just a little bit of fun with the twins and some green grass.

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A Night at Alumni Field

Saturday night 19 of us (friends and family) made our way to Keene, NH for a night of fellowship, food, and collegiate summer league baseball. Oh, and yes there were fireworks at the end of the evening.

Dinner was nice. We had six kids under the age of 10 in a restaurant, together. It went fairly smooth, considering. Everyone ate their fill.

Then it was off to Alumni Field to watch my 18-year-old son Ryan playing for the Keene Swamp Bats. The Swamp Bats play in one of the premier summer collegiate leagues in the country, the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Keene is also one of the top-notch organizations, not only in this league, but in the entire country. Ryan is playing catcher and getting time as a designated hitter ( DH) when not catching. He’s on a temporary contract, but hoping to be picked up for the entire summer. His team, and the entire league, recruits and signs collegiate players from all over the United States to play summer baseball in New England. It’s good ball. It’s fun to watch, with good pitching, maximum effort, no commercial breaks, and the sounds of baseballs colliding with wooden bats, it’s a throwback, and it’s beautiful.

Saturday night it was about the family (and friends) coming together to see one of their own, Ryan Beal, playing baseball with the other collegians. Ryan ended up 0-for-3 at the plate, while hitting the ball hard a couple of times. The Swamp Bats lost the game, but we got to spend time together, outside, watching our national pastime being played by ball players living their ball playing dreams.

During the evening that could easily be mistaken for a casual night at a small-town ballpark with no particular interest in mind, a more personal story unfolded. Ryan’s brothers and sisters got to see him in his larger than life uniform along side his teammates. We all saw him being asked constantly by youngsters for a high-five, for a ball, or for an autograph. We heard him announced in a batting lineup between players from the University of Georgia and the University of Louisville. We watched him warm up hard throwing pitchers in the bullpen, receiving the ball like it was a simple game of catch in the back yard. We saw him respect the game, and hold his brand new teammates in high regard, as it should be. We saw our son, our brother, our nephew, our grandson, our cousin, our family friend, our role model, playing a child’s game that eventually passes each of us by. We saw a young man pursuing his dream, living in his moment, and doing gentlemanly battle on the symmetrical stage that was there before all of us, and that will be there long after each of us has passed. And maybe in an instance we saw ourselves in number 28 wearing purple, and we longed selfishly for a moment to ourselves.

It was a fun night together with our favorite people in the world, our families and friends. The weather was beautiful. The kids had some room to roam. The entertainment was real, experienced first hand, nothing was virtual. The show on the field was excellent. And as minutes disappeared into innings, and innings became an hour or two, somehow I think we were all better for it.

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Ryan at bat

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Ryan takes a pitch

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Ryan warms up a pitcher in the bullpen

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Ryan watches the ball into his glove

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Ryan catches. Brother and sister watch.

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My beautiful daughters

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My oldest and youngest sons

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Ryan hits a line drive

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Theodore shows off his balloon

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Ryan Beal, #28, Catcher, Keene Swamp Bats, 2012

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You guessed it, fireworks

Walk-Off Win

Ryan Beal scores the winning run in a come from behind, walk-off win. This is from the play-by-play account on the NECBL Website.

Bottom of 9th Keene Swamp Bats

Pitching Substitution 8 Dave Spinosa subs for Andrew

#19 Jared Walsh Ball, Swinging Strike, Swinging Strike, Foul, Foul, Ball, Ball, 19 Jared Walsh advances to 1st (BB)

#18 Frank Whitten Ball, Ball, Swinging Strike, Ball, 18 Frank Whitten advances to 1st (FC), 19 Jared Walsh putout (5-3) for out number 1

#21 Austin Wheeler Swinging Strike, Swinging Strike, Foul, Ball, 18 Frank Whitten advances to 2nd (WP 21), 21 Austin Wheeler putout (K) for out number 2

#20 Dylan DelaCruz Swinging Strike, Swinging Strike, Ball, Foul, 20 Dylan DelaCruz advances to 1st (1B 8), 18 Frank Whitten advances to 3rd (20), 18 Frank Whitten Scores Earned (20)

#28 Ryan Beal Swinging Strike, 28 Ryan Beal advances to 1st (1B 9), 20 Dylan DelaCruz advances to 2nd (28), 20 Dylan DelaCruz advances to 3rd (28)

#14 Cameron OBrien Ball, Swinging Strike, Swinging Strike, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, 14 Cameron OBrien advances to 1st (BB), 28 Ryan Beal advances to 2nd (14)

#13 Brett Barrett Swinging Strike, Ball, 13 Brett Barrett advances to 1st (1B 9), 14 Cameron OBrien advances to 2nd (13), 28 Ryan Beal advances to 3rd (13), 20 Dylan DelaCruz Scores Earned (13), 28 Ryan Beal Scores Earned (13)

Runs: 3, Hits: 3, Errors: 0, LOB: 2

Congratulations to Ryan and the Keene Swamp Bats, winners in their season opener!

Cowboy hat

Aside from wanting to be a professional ball player, my second choice was to grow up and be a cowboy. Well, I am batting .000 on those careers, but maybe Theodore will take one of those paths. Here he is at Grammy’s. I think it suits him well.