My hairdresser in Florida, Jill, has two girls, ages sixteen and thirteen. Summer, the older, pitches for her high school softball team, which recently competed in its regional semi-finals.
The tournament was in Homestead, Florida, between Miami and the Keys. It's where Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992 and a good ninety minutes from their home in Delray Beach. Also about as far away as you can get from Tallahassee, where the family was supposed to attend Jill's step-daughter's graduation from Florida State the day after the tournament.
"I just got off the phone with Summer's coach AND the division president," Jill's husband, Mike, said. "I thought they could reschedule the game for the previous night, but the division president won't allow it."
"Did you really think they'd change a tournament for one player? Why don't you go up to Tallahassee for the family dinner on Friday night? I'll take the girls to the tournament in Homestead. The three of us will drive straight through to Tallahassee after it's over, and the girls can sleep in the car. At least we'll be there to get good seats for the graduation," Jill said.
"But I can't drive the truck all the way up to Tallahassee," her husband said.
"You take our car and I'll rent one for me and the girls."
Halfway to Homestead that Friday Jill's rental died. They waited for AAA and got back on the road an hour later, arriving at the tournament as the national anthem blared through the p.a. system. Summer pitched five innings and her team won. The state finals would be the following weekend.
They woke Mike up in his hotel in Tallahassee at 1 a.m. and arose at 6 a.m. for the graduation. Parking was impossible, but they found a spot for their SUV ten blocks away. Jill wore new orange heels to go with her sundress. Two blocks before the stadium, one of her heels caught in a crack and tore away from the sole. "At least the blood goes with my red and orange dress," she said, as her husband helped her up off the sidewalk and offered his handkerchief. Jill completed the walk in bare feet.
That afternoon, after spending time with the graduate, Mike, Jill, and the girls drove to Ocala, where their friend, Al, owned some cabins. "I haven't seen this place, but how bad could it be? We're only going to stay one night. Besides, they're treating us to dinner at their restaurant," Mike said.
Al greeted them warmly and led them to their cabin. "We'll see you at the restaurant in about an hour," Mike said. He plopped his carry-on bag and Jill's onto their bed. Dust rose up in a cloud. Jill pulled the bedspread back. The blanket looked like Swiss cheese.
"There's no signal here," Summer announced. "No cell phone and no internet. Great!!"
"I know. We couldn't use the GPS either," Mike said.
They rallied to eat. The menu consisted of fried everything - catfish, shrimp, and scallops, to name a few. Jill and her daughters pushed the heavy food around their plates, but Mike dug in The bill arrived for $60. "I thought we were Al's guests," Jill whispered to Mike.
"So did I." The family was on the road by 6 a.m. the following morning.
Summer's state championship game would be played the following weekend in - you guessed it - Tallahassee. "Try to find a teammate whose parents are going," Mike said.
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.