Opinion

Thoughts of the Mariners – and dad’s last moments

Lorea Gwo - Courtesy Photo
Lorea Gwo
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

By Lorea Gwo

Silence filled the crowd. Anticipation drenched the air. It was a tied game, the bases were loaded and every fan sat on the edge of their seat. Ichiro Suzuki, one of the greatest hitters of all time, was up next. All eyes were glued to the pitcher’s mound, all minds anxiously waiting. All but mine.

I slowly lowered my lids. Complete darkness surrounded me as I sat behind home plate at Safeco field. The combination of the cool breeze gusting in from Puget Sound and the metal benches pressed against the backs of my thighs shot goose bumps down my legs. An uncontrollable shiver erupted through my spine. I let my mind slip back 10 years.

I remembered my dad pulling me out of my third grade class at Somerset Elementary. “Lorea Gwo, please come down to the office. Your dad is waiting for you.” My tiny hand stopped drawing, and I looked up to see 20 envious, doe-eyed classmates staring at me. Grinning uncontrollably, I dropped my crayon, grabbed my backpack and sprinted out the door.

At the end of the hall, my dad and older brother waited for me in matching Ichiro jerseys. I broke into a run, almost tripping over my clumsy feet and jumped into my dad’s arms as he effortlessly scooped me up and kissed me tenderly on the cheek. Pulled out of class for a Mariners game? I was the luckiest kid in the world. And my dad was unquestionably the coolest dad in the world.

Suddenly, the familiar scent of garlic fries wafted past my nose and jolted me back to the game from the brief reminiscence of my childhood. I closed my eyes again and let my mind travel forward three years. I thought about my dad. It was still tough to think about him without grieving. But here in these rare moments of serenity, I thought about the last moments I spent with him. How watching Mariners games by his hospital bed became more frequent than going to the actual games themselves and how I held his delicate hand at his bedside as we watched countless baseball games on the hospital television.

Having the spirit of a young and healthy man, he cheered every time he was wheeled away into chemo and radiation treatments. I remember him sucking up his own fear in front of the family, reassuring us with nothing but smiles before every treatment cycle. It seemed like every day, when I would visit him at the hospital, he grew more unrecognizably emaciated. He would always look up at me with a glint of hope in his eyes, barely strong enough to push out a smile. He would promise me we would be back at Safeco Field soon, with the best seats in the house, the second he was healthy again. Sometimes I would believe him.

It turned out we never had an opportunity to go to another family baseball game. Even so, I was grateful for the 15 years of unforgettable memories. Somehow, through the most difficult times, my dad had raised me into a resilient, independent woman who appreciated every moment with her family. Although I wish my dad were here, I am forever grateful for these experiences, for they forced me to mature and molded me into a young girl precocious beyond my years.

My thoughts were interrupted by the explosion of cheers by the entire Safeco Field. Ichiro had hit a double! Everyone jumped to their feet cheering. We had finally stopped our losing streak! Ecstatic and relieved, I turned my head and caught a glimpse of my brothers’ eyes. At that moment I knew my dad was with us, enjoying the rare win with the whole stadium.

 

Lorea Gwo of Bellevue was named one of 10 winners in the Gilda’s Club Seattle “It’s Always Something” Teen Writing Contest. She was awarded $1,000 for her essay.

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