February 18, 2012

Too Young

In 1995, I was pregnant with my first son. After church, I said to my husband I wanted pancakes. The local iHOP was the only place we could think of, Northern Palm Beach County not being that built up and breakfast places not being in great abundance.

We sat at our booth and ordered, my husband's back sitting to the back the the restaurant. I faced the back of the restaurant.

Along the back, the staff had placed two long tables end to end to sit one family. They had just come from church and the dad was in a suit, with the mother dressed in hose and heels. The entire family was dressed as if they'd just come from church, treating it with the Sunday Best. There were teenaged children and boyfriends/girlfriends. In all, I think there were probably 10 people.

I kept looking back until finally my husband said, "What's up?"

And I replied, "That guy in the back, I'm trying to place him. I know I work with him at Company X. I'm going department to department. I've ruled out Warranty, Provisioning, and I think Finance. I don't think he's in Finance. I'm trying to think if he's in Project or Contracts..."

My husband turned and looked, rolled his eyes and said, "Hunhead. You don't know him. That's GARY CARTER, the catcher from the Mets. You saw him play a few years ago when we went to Shea Stadium..."

He just seemed so comfortable and so happy with his family, and we weren't at some big fancy restaurant; we were at iHOP.

I've seen him around town since. He lived just a few miles from us and I'd see him at the gas station pumping gas. I never said anything of course, because I may have THOUGHT I knew him, but I didn't.

He was such a regular guy. I hear stories of his kindness.

And when I think of Gary Carter, I think of the guy, smiling, laughing, and loving his family at iHOP... 17 years ago.

Fifty seven years old is too young to die.

Posted by Boudicca at February 18, 2012 03:55 PM

Growing up, he was my hero. I remember in 1985, the bus driver dropping me off at my aunt's Bedford Avenue apartment building after school. It was opening day -- Gary Carter's first game as a Met -- and we all watched him crack that amazing walk-off 10th inning home run to win the game. My entire family fell in love with him. He sent me a signed Topps "all-star" baseball card after my aunt suggested I write him a get well letter when he injured his thumb in the '86 season. He did everything good, and right -- philanthropic work for children with cancer, speaking out against drugs, just plain making people smile and feel good about themselves -- and for all of that he deserved to spend a long time in the bosom of his family. Even if the Almighty came to earth and personally explained to me why he felt compelled to visit such anguish upon this family, his answer would never be satisfactory to me. My only consolation is knowing that he treasured every second he had with them during his too-brief time here on the planet.

Posted by: Erica at February 18, 2012 05:32 PM