My twin sons, Sean and Aaron, celebrated their 36th birthdays on Oct. 25.
We partied in typical Flores family fashion with dinner at their favorite restaurant. We ending up back at our home blowing out the sparkling candles on their birthday cakes, carrying on multiple, simultaneous conversations, and opening gifts while my young grandkids chased our two German Sheperds around the house. All at the same time.
Even through all this mayhem, a parent can sense a shift in the equilibrium of the happiness with their children. You have the ability to recognize the heart of your children when it aches. Celebrating my children’s birthdays without Susie, their mom, is never ever easy. We lost Susie several years ago to cancer. And, as their father, I'm at my weakest when I feel the need to protect them from this emotional loss. That's especially the case on occasions like birthday parties.
The chaos of family birthday activity helps us work through the celebrations, but you never get over the emotional pain. As my family always tries to do, we circled the emotional wagons and did what we know Susie would want. We just worked through it.
All the candles had been blown out, all the gifts had been opened and as we all sat around the bar in our kitchen chatting, Aaron announced he had something to say. Everyone quieted. He talked about his mom and how much it meant to him that she brought all of his sisters and brother into this world. He spoke to how Susie and I raised all of them and how lucky we are to have each other.
“The secret to having it all is knowing when you do,” he said.
And as we looked around the crowded kitchen, we knew exactly what he meant.
And then, in an atypical role reversal, he handed me a card. I was totally taken by surprise.
The card read in part, “There will never be enough words to say or enough ways to show you how much I love you and how proud I am to be able to call you my dad. This is what I want for my birthday.”
Inside the card were two tickets, one for him and one for me, to attend last Friday night’s World Series game between the Dodgers and the Red Sox. (Yes, the one that went 18 innings and lasted more than seven hours.)
I was stunned beyond words. I was totally speechless.
My tears spoke for me.
I had sensed something was up when throughout the week he kept asking me about attending the 1981 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Almost childlike, he would ask, “What was it like to go to a World Series game?” “What do you remember the most?” “Where did you sit?”
To be completely honest, what I remember the most about the 1981 World Series was the pomp and circumstance of a World Series. There was an immeasurable grandeur, a palatable air of commonality among all the fans and a sense that our mere presence would will the Dodgers on to victory.
The Dodgers had lost the first two games of the Series on the road, just like this year. All the star power was in attendance. And I don’t mean in the stands. Fernando Venezuela headed up the pitching staff of Tommy Lasorda’s legendary team, which miraculously rallied from that two-game deficit to win the World Series, 4 games to 2.
I was not a serious baseball fan back in 1981. I was so unworthy of a trip to the World Series. I am now a casual Dodger fan at best. With so many die-hard Dodger fans out there, many of them yearning for the chance to attend, I felt unworthy. And as a father, I felt a slight sense of guilt at how much money my son spent on the tickets. If I had sold my house, I could have taken my whole family.
But as his older sisters Nikki and Brenna counseled me, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for a father and son. As they both said so well, you can’t put a price on special memories no matter how big or small. The World Series is big.
Yes, I went to Game 3 of the 2018 World Series to watch the Dodgers beat the Red Sox, 3-2, in a game for the ages. And, yes, we stayed for all 18 innings -- our whole section did. But more important than who was on the field was who was sitting next to me.
Thank you, son.
Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at email@example.com. His work normally appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.