Chelle Summer

unbroken bonds

Longing and Gratitude

Michelle Rusk

On Friday morning, shortly before 8:00 am, I was driving toward the mountains to Four Hills, for an estate sale. If you've read my book, The Green Dress, that's the area of Albuquerque (although not called that in the book) where Sally's house was. 

While I don't feel sadness now for the deaths of my parents and my sister, I do sometimes just simply miss having them here on earth. As I was driving I was thinking about them and I looked to my left where the Sandia Mountains sat, looking a bit hazy in the early morning sun. As my car took me towards the mountains, I could see the rocks that make up their jutted mass on the eastern edge of the city.

And it was in that moment that I began to feel grateful to see such a cool sight, a beautiful sight, of nature. The longing quickly passed and I found myself lifted up in that moment. There was nothing to be sad about. I quickly remembered that my parents and my sister are still with me, all is well, there is nothing to long for.

Once again, a little gratitude topples any any emotions that might hold us back from truly being in the moment. Where we should be. 

Harry Caray and my sister D-D-Denise

Michelle Rusk

While everyone is remembering their parents or grandparents after the Cubs made the World Series, for me, it's about how my baseball bound my younger sister and I. It was my dad who took me to my first Cubs game although Denise was very young and stayed home (we got her the pennant behind her head) and later he often secured tickets ninth row behind first base that a man he worked with had, mostly taking Denise with him and once for opening day on her birthday, April 4.

I believe I went once with him, another time he gave me the tickets and my friend Dave and I trekked to the north side. Other times though, I went with my friends and sat in the bleachers. 

But it's mom who took us to New York City where we saw the Cubs play the Mets in Shea Stadium. I don't think my sister ever forgave Harry Caray after that day.

Mom worked for the old Midway Airlines and she as always looking for fun day trips for us to take. So on an April Sunday in the late 1980s, we boarded a plan to LaGuardia and took a bus to Shea where we saw the Cubs and Mets play. Having watched many, many, many Cubs games in my young life at that time, I knew that Harry Caray would announce the names of Cubs fans who were attending away games (which would almost be the entire stadium in Atlanta at the time).

I wandered the stadium somehow finding my way to where they were broadcasting and handed my note to someone at the door, not knowing if our names were read on the air or not.

We were recording the game at home but other people later told us that had indeed heard that "Marianne Linn and her daughters, Michelle and D-D-Denise..." were at the game.

"How could do that to my name?" she asked, disappointed, as she shook her head.

How many drinks had he had by then? we all wondered.

Denise and I pretty much lived for Cubs baseball. I'm not sure we ever attended a game together but we watched many of them on television together. Some of my favorite memories of life with her are the nights we drove over to Cub Foods and picked up a half gallon of Kemp's strawberry frozen yogurt and a package of Archway oatmeal raisin cookies that we then turned into ice cream sandwiches as we watched the Cubs play the late games against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the little black and white television in the kitchen.

And we watched the playoffs even when they obviously didn't include the Cubs although by then we were calling them the "Scrubs" because they had fallen apart by the end of the season.

I never thought I would see the day when the Cubs made the World Series but I also am honest when I say that baseball doesn't mean what it once did to me. I didn't watch it for a long time after she died and since then– especially now that I can't just turn on the radio or WGN to put on a game on the background– my life has changed. 

I hope that in heaven she is doing a jig today, with Mom and Dad. Yesterday as I drove to watch Greg's soccer team play, "Harden my Heart" My Melissa Manchester came on the radio as I pulled into the school parking lot. 

"Hi Denise," I greeted her, knowing it's one of three songs I believe that play to remind me she is there with me.

I'm sure that was her way of telling me she remembers our Cubs times together, too. And that anything is possible, even a Cubs World Series.