“Once around first, once around second, once around third and you’re all the way home!”
The old cheer ran through her mind and brought a smile to her face. Leaving the church after morning service, Allison had noticed the sign-up sheets for Evangel’s softball teams, and they had brought back fond memories.
“Too bad those days are over,” thought Allison as she walked to her car after morning worship. Suddenly she heard Pam calling her name.
Pam hurried up to her with a bright smile. “I’m so glad I caught you. Seems like you’re always gone before I can find you anymore.”
“Hi, Pammi. Well, you know how it is. The boys come over for Sunday dinner. I like to have something in the oven before they get there.”
Do you think they’ll come for Easter Services next month?”
“I doubt it. Since their dad left, none of them will have much to do with church.”
For a moment neither of them said anything, one lost in memories of sorrow and pain, the other praying for a way to encourage her friend.
“Well, what you need is some fellowship. The Lady’s Group is going to the Gospel Music Concert next Saturday. You should come.” Pam knew Allison loved these concerts, but she hadn’t attended one in years. In fact, she hadn’t been involved in any activities since the divorce.
“Oh...I don’t think I’ll be going. Listen, I really need to get dinner started. I’ll talk to you later.”
“At least think about it. I’ll pick you up. Just call me,” called Pam as Allison got in her car and drove away.
At home, she bustled about in the kitchen, but just as she got the roast in the oven, the boys called. They had been able to pick up tickets to the big game at the last minute and wouldn’t be over after all. She wasn’t all that surprised, though. Last week it had been something else. The long afternoon now loomed ahead of her, a condensed version of her dreary future. After wandering about the house, she finally sat down with a book. She had looked forward to reading the best seller, but somehow it just didn’t hold her attention.
“Once around first...” kept reverberating in her mind. Those days long ago hadn’t been easy. The emotional abuse and betrayal she had endured from her husband would have extinguished her zest for life, except for her determination to be strong for her boys. Playing softball had given her a reprieve from the strife for a while, and that had enabled her to be a better mom. The boys were no longer at home, though, and she was alone -- alone and forgotten.
“Once around second...” Playing softball...it was just a silly game. How could it have had such a powerful effect on her? As she sat reminiscing, her teary eyes threatened to spill over, and she reached for a tissue. Even through her melancholy she could almost feel the comfort and strength that had renewed her spirit every season. Where had that come from?
Allison thought about the acceptance she had found as a member of the team, and contrasted that with the rejection she had dealt with at home. She had no transportation, but Opal had come to pick her up for every game, even though it was out of her way. Just a small gesture to some, but to Allison, it had meant a lot. Her husband had shown no interest in her games and had belittled her talent, but the coach had made her the shortstop. When the players voted her onto the All-Star team, she began to feel self-confidence that she had never experienced before.
“Once around third...” For a moment, Allison wished she could be part of the team again. Feeling like life had passed her by, she longed for companionship and the confidence that comes from feeling accepted and valued. At her age, softball wasn’t an option anymore, but was there another way?
With a start, she roused from her thoughts as the phone rang.
“Hello, Pammi? Yes, I have been thinking about it. I would like to join the group at the Gospel Music concert. Thanks so much for thinking of me. Yes, I ‘m looking forward to it.” Allison’s smile of anticipation lingered on her face until she fell asleep that night. As she drifted off, her mind finished the cheer... “ and you’re all the way home.”
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