From A Second Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul

Never, Never Give Up

It was a very exciting day for us—the championship Little League game of the season. Two teams would be battling it out one more time for the championship. We were the only team all season to beat this “Paint Shop” team, and they were determined to win tonight’s game.

We were a baseball family. Ben, my husband, had coached the Little League team for the past two years, but he had lost his battle to cancer two months earlier. Dying at the age of forty-three after a courageous struggle, he had left me and our two children, Jared, ten, and Lara, six.

He had coached while undergoing massive doses of chemotherapy and many stays in the hospital, along with daily trips to the hospital for tests. Despite being tired, worried and worn down, he had continued to coach.

How he delighted in Jared’s accomplishments playing baseball, and how proud he would have been today of this team and Jared, the team leader and starting pitcher.

Ben was an English teacher by profession and had enjoyed coaching soccer and baseball for years. He taught the teams how to play the game and about good sportsmanship, fair play and physical fitness. He also taught his family and a caring community how to fight a terrible disease with faith, hope, courage and dignity. He gave us all the courage to hope when all hope was lost.

An avid reader, Ben jotted down quotes on index cards and left them here or there around the house. One quote he loved was by Winston Churchill during World War II: “Never, never, never, never give up.” It seemed so appropriate for Ben, as those were the words he lived by, fighting this disease for one-and-a-half years, up to his very last breath. Upon his death, we had those words inscribed on his tombstone. Those special words became a message to my children and me upon every visit to his grave. They were not something to be shared—they were just for us. Our secret message to each other from Dad.

The game was close, and Jared felt the pressure.

Because parents, family and friends on both teams had helped care for our children at a moment’s notice during our nightmare and had felt much anguish upon Ben’s death, every person at that field missed Ben that evening.

One enthusiastic father, whose son was new to the team, and who had not known our family circumstances over the past year, came to the game with twenty-five paper cups on which he had written different baseball expressions: “Get a base hit,” “Catch that fly ball,” “Pop-Up,” “Bunt.” What fun it would be for each player to read a message on his cup after quenching his thirst.

The score was close; it was a nerve-wracking game. In the fourth inning, Jared pulled a cup out randomly for his drink of water. Suddenly he ran from the bench over to me with the cup. Written on his cup were the words, “Never, never give up.” The news spread fast. Ben was there, even if in spirit only. Needless to say, we won the game, and the cup now sits on a shelf next to Ben’s picture to greet anyone who walks in our back door.

Diane Novinski

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