Life's Passion Regained: How I Found, Lost, and Rediscovered Sports

Thomas MildropContributor IAugust 7, 2009

Writing hasn't always come easy to me. Sure, my friends always tell me I'm okay at it, but whose place is it to say really?

Just like writing, my love of sports hasn't always come easy either.

Sure, when I was little, I, like any other boy in town, eventually found my way to sports. Baseball in the spring, golf in the summer, football in the autumn and a combination of hockey and basketball in the winter decorated the tapestry of my childhood as much as any other kid's.

Of all the sports I played and watched, baseball was always my favorite.

Neighborhoods were full of kids to play it with, plus in the evening, my Dad would teach me how to play better. Standing at one end of the driveway, he'd throw pop-ups, grounders, and line drives to me.

I'd throw back as hard as I could; probably in some juvenile attempt to "one up the old man."

And so time went on: I kept playing and getting better, Dad always at my side.

Soon came high school, then college, and from there, I started to drift from both sports and my father.

Sure, I still watched all the Mariners games and wasn't on bad terms with my dad, but life was different. I'd gone off to Montana and had seperated myself from my roots, my childhood, my passions.

College ran past like a blur and six years later, there I was, living in Montana with a new wife trying to make time for her, work, family, and baseball.

The more I tried to balance everything, the harder it began to get to follow the sports I loved. Time wore on and I stopped watching the Seahawks, then the SuperSonics, and finally I was split between my wife, my kids, and the game I loved: baseball.

Even baseball had become little more than reading a statline in the daily paper. What was sadder was dad was about as neglected.

Sure, I loved him, but I lived far away from home and I had siblings there to help take care of dad while he aged.

That all changed one day nine years ago. I got a call from my sister: "Dad has colon cancer; it's mestastisized all over his body. You need to come in now."

That plane ride was awful—how do you come to grips with that?

As soon as I got in Seattle, I made a dash for the hospital. The cancer wasn't as bad as everyone thought it would be and dad had decided to fight it, but it was still a longshot.

I took all my vacation time I could and stayed there. During the day, we'd talk but at night, Dad only wanted to watch baseball.

I'd sit there, watching with him, finally watching the game I loved so much and finally enjoying it the way I used to. Suzuki would stand in the box and hit; Dad would yell that he should be legging out that double into a triple.

The days waned on and Dad got weaker after his chemotherapy, then stronger as his rehab—and the baseball season—wore on. As the Mariners, our Mariners, got stronger and stronger, so too did Dad.

The pennant was in our grasp, and then came our first playoff opponent: The Chicago White Sox.

We all thought the Sox would give the Mariners a good series, but just like Dad, the Mariners plowed through.

I had been back and forth between Seattle and Montana all season, but for the ALCS, I made sure I was back out on the coast with Dad, ready to cheer on our Mighty M's.

Seattle eventually dropped the series—New York's prowess proving too much.

Dad and I had gotten tickets to game five, and cheered estatically as the Mariners forced the series back to New York. The next day we went to the doctor: all cancer was in remission.

I stayed in town to watch game six, a sad defeat.

As we sat in the house I'd grown up in, listening to the postgame with one ear and our own conversation with the other, Dad asked if I was excited about the upcoming Seahawks season.

I admitted I didn't really know—I hadn't had time to watch football in a while. Shocked, he asked who Doug and Ross, two big Seahawks fans themselves, watched the games with.

That's when it hit me. I no longer had the time—or passion—for sports because I wasn't sharing them with the people I loved, the way Dad used to.

His cancer is still in remission, my passion is back, and the M's are winning again. I'll thank God for the first and last ones and thank Dad for the second. I guess it was a welcome back gift from father to son.

Thanks for taking a few minutes to share my story. God Bless!


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