Sometimes Help Comes From the Other Teams

Submitted 5 months ago
Created by
Kerry Krieger Clifford

I cannot count the number of times that I've checked my mail or my GoFundMe page only to find a generous gift from someone I've never met. And I'm constantly inspired by the fact that my plow guy, who sits at the opposite end of the political spectrum from me, doesn't give a fig about my stance on gun control when it is snowing. He just faithfully shows up and clears my driveway no matter who I voted for. 

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My ex-husband and his wife have an apartment attached to their house. That apartment became my parents' home for the first winter that they had to move up here to take care of me. There was no money requested; no questions asked; not a moment's hesitation. It simply was what our family needed, and so they made it work.

If you've read my very first blog - the one I refer to as my "origin story" - you know that it was a very freshly-ex-boyfriend who sat by my side for ten hours in a Providence emergency department the day they found the masses on my liver. He even offered to drive me back to Windsor when it was over, but I just needed to be alone and so I declined. 

Today, I'm going to write about another ex-boyfriend (Someday, I'll write a book about all of the terrible people I've dated, but I'm limiting this blog to sharing stories about the good ones.) and how he stepped up to the plate for me. No promises that there won't be more sports puns. You've been warned.

Four years ago, Justin started a softball tournament. It began as this idea he had for a small competition in his neighborhood, but since Justin doesn't really do "small", it soon took on a life of its own. It grew into a town-wide event at the Fairgrounds with brackets, raffles, and a cause. Every year, the proceeds from At Bat 4 Windsor's Kids have gone to various children's charities in the area. While we had a reasonably amicable breakup, I did not think I was even on his radar anymore when I got the text from him last spring telling me that the 2017 tournament money was going to just two of Windsor's kids - mine. 

I was speechless. The 50/50 and raffle tickets were being sold on Facebook. We got to ride in his truck during the Alumni Parade that Saturday. And my boys got to throw out and catch the first pitch. A man I don't know well at all won the 50/50 and donated his prize money right back to us. They even put up with me giving a little awkward speech about colonoscopies. Everyone in town showed up; everyone in town showed up for us.  

Dalton catches Max's first pitch while Justin looks on

Truth time: I felt guilty that weekend. I had been missing work for an entire school year, but had been covered pretty well by my disability insurance. Friends (and strangers, as I mentioned before) had been so generous already with meals, gift cards, and money. And I was still a couple of weeks away from finding out that I wasn't going to be cured. I still fully expected this cancer thing to be a short-term problem and was planning to be back to work as a teacher in the fall. I remember thinking that although this big fuss was incredibly kind, it was also unnecessary in light of all of the need in the Upper Valley. I've since shaken the guilt and am grateful to my internal filters for not refusing the help outright. The support we received that day, both financial and moral, has been essential on this journey. Sucking it up and accepting the help is an important skill. I'm getting really good at it now... an all-star.

This year's tournament is happening in September. What could be more beautiful than Fall ball in New England?!? So, mark your calendars for September 23 and rally your friends to form a team. No specific charities (or cancer-stricken families) have been named as yet, so be sure to follow the Facebook event to get more details as we get closer to the date. And, to paraphrase Nora Ephron, never date a guy you wouldn't want to be broken up with.

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