Good Will

I remember when my father handed me the bat during a game. It was top of the eighth. My T-shirt bore the name of a local gas station. My white pants had a patch sewn on the seat.

It’s morning. I’m parked at a community ballpark, eating a breakfast sandwich.

I made the mistake of turning on the radio. It’s nothing but horrifying news, greasy politics, shouting evangelists, and music that sounds like a choir of chainsaws with chest colds.

Radio off.

I see a boy in an oversized helmet, he’s on the field by himself. A man pitches underhand to him. The kid swings. After a few strikes, he hits a home run. It arcs clear over the fence.

Meet William. He’s the nine-year-old who hit the ball, and he hit that thing harder than Roy Hobbs.

Right now, William is very happy. You can see it on him. He’s running the bases. His legs are skinny, his face is all smiles. William has Down syndrome, and his tender heart is the size of four states.

This morning, his father has been teaching him to use a bat. Will’s mother is the only one in the bleachers.

“I didn’t expect Will to be so amazing,” his mother says. “Did you see him hit that ball?”

I did.

And I can sort of relate to what he must be feeling. The first time I ever hit a baseball over the fence was the only time it ever happened.

I was about William’s age. I was moderately chubby, un-athletic, I liked pocket knives, pork products, endurance napping, and I wore Superman underpants.

I was no Lou Whitaker.

I remember when my father handed me the bat during a game. It was top of the eighth. My T-shirt bore the name of a local gas station. My white pants had a patch sewn on the seat.

Daddy said: “Keep. Your. Eye. On. The. Ball.”

I swung. It was pure luck. The thing sailed like the S.S. Minnow. And the image I remember most clearly is my father throwing his hat upward into the air.

I’ll never forget the words he hollered: “WEEE DOGGGY!”

He only said that when he was overcome with feeling. It was high praise.

So William trots the bases. His father claps. His mother claps. I clap. There’s nobody in the park this morning, but it feels like the ‘95 World Series.

“Every day’s like this,” says William’s father. “Will gets excited over everything.”

Once upon a time, William’s father was a mechanic. He made decent money. When their newborn son came, the doctor said life would be complicated. And it was.

His father quit his job. They moved into a smaller place. William’s parents built their world around medical appointments.

His father took a job at a grocery store to be closer to home. The money isn’t great, but they’ve been happy.

“Our life is perfect,” says his father. “People act like Down syndrome is a bad thing, but that ain’t how it is. You get a kid like William, you won the lottery.”

William is a happy little man. And according to his parents, he’s always happy.

“Only time we ever see him sad,” his father goes on, “is when something dies. He don’t understand death.”

They saw a dead deer on the side of the road a few weeks ago. It tore William up. William wanted to know who was going to take care of the orphan deer.

His mother says, “Will teaches us to SEE things, that’s his gift.”

Seeing. I wish you could see what I am seeing.

William rounds third base, arms straight out like an airplane. “HEY!” he shouts. “HEY, I DID IT, DAD!”

Father and son hug. William’s oversized helmet falls off.

“You’re the best ball player I’ve ever seen,” says his father—who is due at work in an hour.

“No, Dad,” says William. “You’re the best dad I’ve ever seen.”

I’m glad I turned off my radio.

Weee doggy.

28 comments

  1. Beth Reed - April 8, 2018 7:07 am

    GisG I am so very glad that you turned off that radio. Just think of what you would have missed! This is a great big heart tugger!

    Reply
  2. Cathi - April 8, 2018 10:48 am

    Whee doggy indeed. Sean, thank you for showing us that while Will isn’t perfect by this world’s standards, he is PERFECT on a much bigger stage. Yay, Will!!!

    Reply
  3. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way - April 8, 2018 11:11 am

    You did a very smart thing. That is turning off the radio. What a way to see the world. There is a special place in heaven for William and his mom and dad. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve been sharing your stories with some of my readers.

    Reply
  4. Connie - April 8, 2018 11:40 am

    Precious. Thank you for the sweet start to my Sunday. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  5. Alison Crosby - April 8, 2018 11:42 am

    A beautiful story, beautifully told. I start my morning off each day now by reading SOTS. It never fails to get me off for my day with a smile and a good feeling in my heart.

    Reply
  6. Connie - April 8, 2018 12:31 pm

    Thank you for giving us the joy through another persons eyes, and sometime bringing tears to mine…you hit a home run today!

    Reply
  7. Sue Cronkite - April 8, 2018 12:46 pm

    We need to be reminded about how big love is. Often. Today you hit the mark. An emotional home run.

    Reply
  8. Clark - April 8, 2018 12:54 pm

    Thanks Sean.

    Reply
  9. Carol ann ROTHWELL - April 8, 2018 1:29 pm

    What can I say?
    You said it all!!
    love ya.👼 !

    Reply
  10. Deborah S Wilson - April 8, 2018 1:52 pm

    Such a heartwarming story! Love your stories! Keep on writing! Weeee doggggy!! ❤

    Reply
  11. Mary - April 8, 2018 2:20 pm

    I feel the same about my granddaughter with DS! It’s like winning the lottery.

    Reply
  12. Edna B. - April 8, 2018 2:38 pm

    What can I say? Beautiful story, beautifully told. Thank you so much for starting my day with a smile. Hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  13. Jack Quanstrum - April 8, 2018 4:48 pm

    Heart Warming! Inspritional! Good timing. I need that this morning. Good will to me is what is all about. The story solidifies that for me!

    Reply
  14. Wendy Franks - April 8, 2018 5:15 pm

    🙄😊💖💟

    Reply
  15. Dianne - April 8, 2018 6:26 pm

    Love this story!!! Made my day!

    Reply
  16. Jack Darnell - April 8, 2018 6:34 pm

    I cannot hear a radio anyway, but I am glad you turned yours off. Atta boy WILL!

    Reply
  17. Susan Shellnutt - April 8, 2018 7:02 pm

    So glad you turned your radio off and told us this wonderful story……batter up !!!!!!

    Reply
  18. Jody - April 8, 2018 11:05 pm

    This family is a blessing to all

    Reply
  19. Maxine - April 8, 2018 11:47 pm

    WheeeSEAN. You just made a home run!!!

    Reply
  20. Judith - April 9, 2018 1:06 am

    Oh my. Thumbs up on a wonderful story. Way to hit that ball Will.

    Reply
  21. Laura - April 9, 2018 1:49 am

    That is absolutely true. I had a brother who was mentally retarded as a result of a birth injury. Like William’s family, my parents were told life would be difficult with Mark (they were actually told to institutionalize him.) Instead, they raised him as best they could. He attended a special school and had many classmates who had Downs Syndrome. Mark and the children with Downs Syndrome were the happiest people i have ever known . They could laugh at things that might seem stupid and would get me tickled just to watch their joyous reactions to a cloud or rain. This story made me remember how many things Mark helped me SEE when he was alive.

    Reply
  22. Tommy Harris - April 9, 2018 1:49 am

    World Series in 1995? Oh wait, I thought there was a baseball strike in 1995.

    Reply
    • Sandi in FL - April 10, 2018 5:12 am

      That baseball strike was in 1994, not 1995. I asked Google.

      Reply
  23. Starla burkitt - April 9, 2018 3:50 am

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to stop and reflect on the daily life around me . I’m too busy just trying to survive day to day and miss so many opportunities around me everyday. Your writings give me the opportunity to stop and look at the roses. Thank you!

    Reply
  24. Stuart - April 9, 2018 4:15 am

    Good story.
    I have a physically handicapped son who is 9. He smiles, jokes and laughs a lot. He could never run those bases, but he would be in the stands cheering his heart out for Will.

    Reply
  25. Kay Keel - April 9, 2018 12:55 pm

    Some of my favorite sounds are an umpire yelling, “Play Ball!” after the last note of “The Star Spangled Banner” fades into the distance and the crack of a bat against a ball. I’m so glad William’s dad is teaching him that great game and that William enjoys it. What a treasure of memories those three folks are storing up! Thanks for being there to share it with us Sean!

    Reply
  26. PE Huntley - April 9, 2018 2:53 pm

    I loved this. Thank you once again for bringing a smile to my heart in the morning!

    Reply
  27. Jones - April 9, 2018 5:20 pm

    Great! 😃

    Reply

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