Fan Appreciation

Fan Appreciation

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

Fan Appreciation

Don’t wait to make your son a great man—make him a great boy.
~Author Unknown

I remember when I was sixteen years old and sitting in the kitchen with you at our house in Miami, Florida. I was feeling frustrated and confused after having some girlfriend issues that day. I looked right at you and said, “Women! Mom, I sure am glad you are not one of them!”

Ten years later, I asked you to stand to be the “Best Man” at my wedding. While I suppose that is an unconventional concept (having a woman stand to be the groom’s best man), it seemed so natural and obvious to me. From my perspective, I believed that the person who should stand next to you on the most important day of your life, the day you get married, should be the person you feel is the most important to you up until that moment in time. That person was you, Mom.

You earned it.

I did not grow up in a broken home or one without warmth, love or resources. It seems like a lot of stories of successful people start with some difficult personal beginning. I was not cut from that cloth. What I had was a mom who loved me, unconditionally. You really went above and beyond when it came to giving to me and cementing in me every bit of good that you knew how to give.

When I was nine years old, you broke your finger playing catch with me. Did you complain or even stop? Nope. You made me feel that getting my fastball over the inside corner of the plate was much more important than your finger. Which I guess made sense at the time because, after all, you had ten fingers but I only had one fastball.

Then you fed the batting machine with an endless bucket of baseballs so I could practice my hitting, and you drove me to practices and games, sitting through all of them. Rain or shine, it did not matter. You were there, watching every pitch and cheering for every swing, throw and catch. And making me feel like it was your first choice of things to do each and every time. Now that I am a parent of three incredible children, I fully understand, appreciate and admire the sacrifices you made for me.

Probably the most amazing part was that you did it effortlessly, or at least that is how it seemed to me. We are all human, and have our limits to patience. And even with the ones we love most, sometimes we don’t feel like doing something with them or for them. But if you ever felt that way about me, I never knew it. Whenever I asked for help or just your attention—it did not matter how big or small—you responded as if nothing else in your world mattered. That is unconditional attention. And that is what you always gave me.

Remember the time I was a junior in high school and came home from baseball practice? I was upset, as it was the first time in my life I had been told by a coach that I was not good enough to start on the team. I was ready to quit. It didn’t matter to me that I had played ball and been the best player on the team for twelve of the seventeen years of my life. In my mind, the coach was a jerk and I was done with baseball.

We were standing next to the washing machine. You listened to me as I vented through frustration, disappointment and tears. I know you felt every moment of the pain I was experiencing, but you were the voice of reason when I needed it most.

You told me that I could quit, that it was my choice; but that I should think about it more carefully and not rush to decide while I was so upset. “Just take the weekend to think it through some more,” you encouraged. You also reminded me that there were eight other positions on the field and that I could learn how to play one of those. You reminded me that failure is a critical part of achieving success later and that dealing with and overcoming setbacks and defeats are what define a person’s character.

I ended up working hard to learn the outfield position. I started that year as an outfielder and then went on to play at Colgate University, becoming the captain of the team my senior year in college. When I graduated, they retired my baseball jersey, which is framed and hanging on my wall next to me as I type this. It serves as a constant reminder to me of the life lesson you taught me over twenty years ago standing next to that washing machine; which is that in life, what happens to a person is not as important as what a person does with what happens to him.

This timeless life lesson, the one that you taught me, has become the core philosophy that I have built my peak-performance coaching career around as I help people find their own inner greatness.

We just celebrated your sixty-fifth birthday. I stood up and said some words to a room full of friends and family you have collected over the years. Every word I said was from my heart. Holding back tears of joy, love and admiration as I spoke each sentence. You are a remarkable person, Mom. I know I don’t tell you often enough.

When I look back now that I am a parent of three children, I realize that you really did the four greatest things I think any parent can do for their children:

1) Make them feel loved, unconditionally

2) Make them feel safe at all times

3) Show them their wings

4) Give them the confidence to use those wings

To this day, I am not sure if you were ever a fan of baseball. But if baseball was what I was playing, then baseball was what you were sitting in the stands watching. I remember you once telling me that your friends would say to you that they didn’t realize you were such a big fan of baseball. You would tell them, “I am not a big fan of baseball, I am a big fan of Doug!”

Well, thank you, Mom for being my first and biggest fan, for making me feel loved, for making me feel safe and most of all for showing me my wings.

~Doug Hirschhorn

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