Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This Is The Hand, Joe Dimaggio

When I was in college, I read many books for young adults.  One was Pink and Say.  It is about an unlikely friendship between and black boy and a white boy, during the Civil War.  The meaningful part, is that one boy has shaken hands with Abraham Lincoln.  When the two boys become friends, they shake hands, and one boy tells the other, that he has now shaken the hand, that shook the hand, of Abraham Lincoln.  

Now when I meet people who have good stories and have met influential or famous people, I think about our hands. My grandpa shook hands with Wyatt Earp.  I have sat on the lap shaken the hand of a man who shook the hand, of Wyatt Earp.  I once spent the day with the friends of Martin Luther King Jr.  I have shaken the hand, of a hand.....

This week I met a man who played baseball with Joe Dimaggio.  He is in the hospital, and in his late 90's.  Our conversation was difficult.  What is it like to look back on a life, full of adventure, tragedy and love?  How do you process nearly 100 years of birthdays, babies, Christmas, cars, coming and going?  What does it mean to live a life of hope?  Why is the end of the story so sad?  Why is the middle of the story so hard?  How could the colors of a life be so vibrant?

His tears were the answer: there is no answer.  His life has been rich with, well.... life!  One day at a time, he lived/lives.  That day, he remembered.  I got to be a witness to his story.   

Yet, his life is bigger than just one story.  Our stories connect, and there is no story without each other.  Knowing our time together was winding down, I put out my hand.  He looked at me through his tears, and grabbed my hand.  I told him that now, my hand has shaken the hand, that shook the hand, of Joe Dimaggio.  I took a piece of his story with me as I walked out of his room.  My  hand and his hand, his hands and Joe Dimaggio's, my heart and his heart.

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