71: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

71: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.

~Maya Angelou

The divorce had been rough, and the ongoing legal struggles were exhausting. I slumped in the pew one gloomy Sunday morning. The gray day seemed to penetrate the inside of the church and my mood as I sat there and prayed, “God, if you just get me out of this mess, I promise I will never, ever get married again!”

I think God must have smiled at my offer. Immediately, I was given a vision or a premonition — and it scared me to death!

I saw myself getting ready to walk down the left aisle of our church with my adult children, Darren and Michele, my son-in-law, Tim, and my grandson, Kristopher. Although Kristopher was their only child, Michele was carrying a little, dark-haired girl about two years old. Coming down the right aisle was a tall man holding the hand of a little girl. The altar was filled with beautiful, pink flowers!

The vision only lasted a few seconds, but it was so real that I was shaking and confused. I thought about it for a few days and then forgot about it as I struggled to survive. Working two jobs, I had no social life at all.

I did enjoy watching our local baseball team, the California Angels, on TV. Finally, at my friends’ urging, I joined the Angels Booster Club. It was fun to attend the baseball games as a group and hand out giveaway items at the gates. While working the gates, I met John, one of the club members. He was so friendly, and we talked and laughed a lot.

Whenever the team was out of town, a group of us would gather to watch the Angels on TV. John was always present and hopeful of a relationship, but I told him, “I enjoy being with you, but I’m not interested in anything more.” He would just nod his head and smile.

One day, John’s parents invited me to their house for a party. John had an adorable daughter, Jamie, and it was her sixth birthday. I knew he had a little girl, but he was pretty protective of her and hadn’t introduced us until he was sure about his feelings for me. She and I bonded immediately, but I told John, “I still don’t want to get married again — ever.” John just smiled and nodded his head in that infuriating way of his. I responded with an adamant, “I mean it!”

“I know you do — now,” he replied, grinning.

I took the problem to God. “Why won’t he believe me? I don’t want to hurt him, God, but I just don’t want to get married again.”

One day, John and I were sitting at the park watching Jamie play on the monkey bars. “You know,” John said quietly, “we might as well get married. We’re together all the time, and we get along so well. I can’t imagine my life without you.”

I had a lump in my throat as I sat there staring at him and then at his sweet girl. Neither of us spoke for a long time, and then I said, “I can’t imagine my life without both of you, either.”

We decided on a February church wedding and a reception at Angel Stadium where we had met. Michele and Tim came from Minnesota to visit us in October and arrived with Kristopher, now four years old, and two-year-old, Kelly, my little, dark-haired granddaughter.

On Wednesday of their weeklong visit, Michele said to me, “Mom, we’re going to start building our new house, and we won’t be able to come back in February for your wedding.”

“What shall we do?” I asked John.

With his usual calm, he asked me, “What’s more important to you — to have all the kids there or to have the wedding we planned in February?”

When he said that, I remembered that vision from three years before. “It’s definitely more important to have all the kids there,” I replied, “but how can we pull this together so quickly?”

“We’ll just split up all the tasks, and everyone can help,” he replied confidently.

I called my friend, Betty, who worked at a nursery. “John and I are getting married on Saturday. Can you help with the flowers?”

“Of course, I wouldn’t miss it,” she replied calmly. “What color is your dress?”

“I don’t have one yet!” In fact, I hadn’t even thought about it.

“Okay,” Betty said, “your flowers will be pink. Pink will go with any color you choose.”

I called our Booster Club friends to see if they could serve refreshments. They jumped right in and even planned to wear their Booster Club shirts.

Another friend, Isobel, offered to make our wedding cake. “No one else can make your cake and put all the love into it that I can,” she said.

Everyone pitched in. Some made calls since we had no time to send invitations. Others offered to decorate and make punch. “I’ll get napkins, plates and cups,” my future father-in-law volunteered. I wondered if it would all match when the pieces were put together.

At the rehearsal, I told our pastor about my vision. “I think it was a picture from God,” I explained, “so I want to walk down the left aisle with my children and grandchildren while John walks down the right aisle with his daughter. Then we can all come out the center aisle together as one family.”

“I think that’s a fine idea,” he agreed, smiling.

On Saturday, I walked into the church reception hall, and everything looked beautiful! Everything that our friends and family had prepared fit together beautifully. Isobel’s cake looked like three layers of love and deliciousness. There were the plates and napkins with our names printed on them as promised. And — everything was pink!

Just before we were to walk down the aisle, Kelly slipped and started to cry, so Michele picked her up and held her, and we walked down the aisle together just as I had seen in my vision.

The pastor even included all the kids in the ceremony. After we said our vows, he had us all clasp hands on top of my Bible and asked my children, “Do you promise to respect and honor John and this marriage?”

“Yes, we do,” they promised.

Turning to Jamie, the pastor asked her, “Do you promise to respect and honor Judee as your stepmother?”

“I do,” she answered in a solemn, small voice.

“Then I pronounce this family is one in the sight of God and these witnesses!” announced the pastor.

As we started our journey together down the center aisle, we laughed out loud as the organist played a dignified rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the church organ. We had heard that song hundreds of times, but now we would hear our song at every baseball game!

~Judee Stapp

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