I don’t remember his name. It was the bottom of the third inning, and it was sweltering hot in Mobile, Alabama.
So far not much had happened in the game.
No runs, and only one hit. Not even any errors. No one seemed to recall if his baseball team was the All Stars, or if he was with the Bay Bears. It is lost to me what his jersey number was, or even whether he eventually hit or scored.
But amid stadium waves, choruses of “Charge!” and a constant parade of lemonade, pizza, peanuts and beer, a young man in a dark shirt, striped baseball pants and a batter’s helmet left the dugout and crossed the grass strip, heading toward the batter’s box.
He carried a bat, though for what he was about to do he could have used almost anything.
He said nothing. I never even saw his face, but what he did next captured me completely. Just before he stepped up to bat he drew a cross in the dirt.
Everyone saw the cross, but the game went on as if nothing had happened.
Nothing was said over the public address system. And it probably made little difference to most of the crowd in the stadium.
But he aroused my envy. Someday I hoped that would be me. Not the major leagues (since I was always the dreaded last pick), but the fact that he found a way to display his values — without displaying himself.
After my own last inning, what will be remembered? What will I have left here, on display in the dirt?
I don’t want to be remembered for what side I was on, or if I won, whatever that means. It will matter very little what tools I used — whether it be a bat, scalpel, paintbrush, something technical, or words.
No one will recall who saw my etchings. The only thing that will count is if I drew a clear picture of what is important, here, in the dirt.
I suppose sliding into the future could be considered a final “home run.” Then, perhaps, I hope to meet a happy mass of people wandering all over the place saying, “You know, I don’t remember who she was, but while I was on earth, someone drew a picture in the dirt. It captured me completely. It was the simplest drawing of …”
Art is out of my reach and equally missing in several generations of my relatives. But each of us leaves a picture behind when our planetary days are over.
There are lots of good choices — philanthropy, ecology, community, encouragement, and more. I couldn’t begin to guess yours.
As I ponder my options, please e-mail me just one word you would like to be known for. I may not reply for a while, however — I’m still thinking.
Meanwhile, a Happy Easter to each of you — or we could just go on pretending that nothing really happened.
Rita Corbett is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.