My dad was my biggest fan when I was a young athlete; always a fixture on the sideline, watching me play field hockey as a teen and softball from lassie league through high school. Whether it was a strikeout or a homerun, he was always there giving positive reinforcement. It would make perfect sense for the two of us to have a bond over baseball; enjoying televised Red Sox games as the years after high school passed. It also makes sense that baseball made its way into our family vacations as well.
As a youngster, my parents took us on a yearly pilgrimage to Cape Cod where I have fond memories of riding the hilly Provincetown bike trails on a bike with no gears, cooking eggs and bacon over an open firepit, and traversing the dunes in our Ford Bronco. Once I entered college, we became a bit more sophisticated; renting homes, dining out on lobster, and shopping. But, one thing always remained; our love for a good baseball game. Luckily, my dad and I carved out time to take in a few Cape Cod Baseball League games in Orleans. Claiming our spot on the grassy hill along the first baseline, we’d chat about the players and who we thought might just make it to the big leagues. It was a special time.
A mere 35 years later, On August 10th, 2019, I took my parents to a game at Fenway Park. We had some lunch, took a tour of the ballpark, and then attended the game. I’m not sure when they were there last, but I wanted to treat them to something special, especially my dad. With some health issues threatening his mobility, it was so important for me to get him there and to experience all the ballpark had to offer, including the tour. I remember my mother being concerned for his safety once we reached the Green Monster, but I recall my dad saying, “This might be my last chance to do this.” He took in the view on that warm summer day; the bright sun lighting the precisely cut green field below, the iconic signage dotting the upper decks, and the players in the distance going through warm-ups. He was in heaven.
My dad found his inner kid that day; eating salted peanuts and sipping lemonade a few rows up behind home plate, and then topped the evening off with an iconic sausage, pepper and onion. It was a great outing all in all, and I know my parents felt the same way, that is, until my mother called; she had discovered there was something missing from her bag upon returning home. “Did you happen to find a purple sock with white stripes anywhere?” I laughed without hesitation and said no, then proceeded to search the house; their guest room, under the family room couch cushions, and the laundry; anywhere a single sock might hide. With no luck on my end, I told her I’d keep an eye-out for it. I knew it really bothered her.
As the months passed, I would still hear about the illusive purple sock with the white stripes from time to time; my mother is not the type of person who lets something like that go easily. I knew it would haunt her the rest of her life. It might be just a dumb sock to some, but to her it became a conquest, a mystery worth solving, and a really good sock gone missing. Inevitably, she would not find that sock, and dare I be so bold to insinuate that she actually forgot about it, leaving it to fend for itself.
Life, as it does, has moved on since those days. Mom called just the other day while I was grocery shopping, and although I wouldn’t usually shop and talk, the current circumstances of them literally “selling the farm” required my attention. She filled me in on prepping the house to have a prospective buyer come in for inspections; scouring rooms for empty tissue boxes, removing unattractive used towels in the bathroom, and placing a quilt over the unfortunate balding spot on the loveseat. At a mere 85 years, my mom was rising to the challenge of decluttering her home; a tough job for anyone. It seemed that was the focus of the call, until she revealed an alternative motive. “I’m really calling to tell you something else,” she said slyly. And then, in her most subdued gentle voice she said with what I believe would have been a tiny smirk on her face, “I found the sock.”
I stopped dead in my tracks; my mother was silent. Standing in the middle of the aisle, I burst out laughing. “Do you know what I’m talking about?”, she asked chuckling. I knew exactly what she was talking about; she had found her missing purple and white striped sock. “Of course I do,” I said, now totally cracking up; boxed lettuce and heirloom tomatoes my witnesses. “Where was it?” I choked out, as I heard her giggling in the background. “I found it in the closet, on the shelf underneath a pair of LL Bean pants,” she said, still snickering. From there you can imagine – the laughter was uncontrollable, the joy abundant.
My mother and I have always had a special bond. We can laugh at the stupidest things whether on the phone or face-to-face. For me, I think it’s truly her delivery that gets me going; the inflections in her voice and the dry commentary combine to perfection. It’s something I’ll always treasure about our relationship; the willingness to be silly. So, when I say the “best day ever,” I do mean the day I spent with my dad at Fenway Park on August 10th, 2019, but I also mean the time I spent on the phone with my mom, September 15, 2021, as I shopped in the grocery store. I won’t soon forget the lighthearted laughter we shared over finding a missing sock. She most certainly is the only woman alive who could find such satisfaction in solving such a mystery.
I have to admit, amidst the celebration, I did forget to inquire about two things; the first being the rationale behind where she found the sock, and the second more critical component to this story – did she keep the other purple and white striped sock all these years? It would be such a shame if she didn’t; for the socks I mean.