When I was a kid, I had a giant crush on Derek Jeter, but that’s not why I root for the Yankees. Jeter is a good-looking guy and a great baseball player, but there’s more to it than that (even though I do own his jersey-oops). Sure I live in New York State and I am a sports fan so it might make logical sense to deduce that I’m a Yankees fan (or Mets, but that would just be too much heartbreak to take). While hockey will always be my number one sport, I hold a special spot in my heart for the “Yanks” and I owe it to my Grandmother (Nana).
Never too old for sports
My grandmother was a fan of sports of all types, but she particularly loved baseball. In fact, my dad likes to tell a story of how she ran the bases with him when he hit his first home-run in Little League. Her dedication wasn’t just to sports, but to me and the rest of our family. The dedication she had to my grandfather was incredible as he fought a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Even after he passed, she maintained an independent life-style in her own home, playing cards, doing water-aerobics, and keeping up with friends and family.
As my grandmother got older and things began to change, she moved from her home to an assisted living style apartment. Her passion for the “Bronx Bombers” carried with her to her new apartment, as she made sure that she had the “YES” channel to watch “her boys” play ball. I always found it amusing that she could tell us every single player on the roster and how well they were playing. My dad used to joke with her that soon enough the Yankees would call her up to coach. Visiting her in the baseball months, meant that sometimes our conversations had to wait for commercial breaks or the end of the game, but I didn’t mind. Her unwavering dedication to the team was incredible to watch and wasn’t something I fully understood until the last couple of days before she passed away.
Thanks for the memories
Within three years of my grandfather passing, my grandmother also passed away. When she was diagnosed with a late stage of Lung Cancer, there wasn’t much that we could do except let time and life take its course. Even with the last days of her life, Nana watched every single Yankees game that was on. With everything else going on, it was a calm reminder to her of something she held so close. While the Yankees will never know how much of a fan they lost in my grandmother, I am continually grateful to the organization for everything they gave her throughout her life.
My grandmother gave me a lot of things during our short overlap of time. When she couldn’t wear items of clothing or jewelry, she would pass them on to me. When she couldn’t drive anymore, she gave me her car and when she moved into hospice care, she gave me her TV for my dorm room. While all of these things were material, she shared everything she had with me until the very last days of her life. So naturally with everything else she gave me, she passed along her love for the Yankees and the dedication to a team that gave her so much hope throughout her life. While rooting for the Yankees isn’t always easy (going to college in New England tested this), I’m reminded of how she never gave up on her team, her family, and her life every time I watch the Yankees play.
August 15th, 2011