During the first years of our softball team at ABS our coach, John Laxson, developed a series of strategic hand signals or signs to let us know what he wanted us to do while we were at the plate or on base. I remember a couple of them even now almost 30 years later. It wasn’t like baseball where the coach’s hands fly around in an almost choreographed bee-swatting dance. Coach Laxson understood that this form of communication and game play was new to us, so he made deliberate, slow-motion touches and sometimes glaring at us with his eyebrows raised like “Did you get that?” And, I might scrunch my nose and tilt my head as if to say “Ummm… what was that?” So, he would do it again, this time hesitating at each spot. Of the ones I remember, I think, he touched his belt buckle for the batter to bunt; he slid his hand down his forearm signaling the base runner to steal; he touched shoulder to shoulder for the batter to take a pitch; and he touched the brim of his hat to erase whatever signal he just gave in an effort to confuse the opponent reading the obvious signs. He was such a fun, good-natured, and patient coach with us those early years of the program.
Last fall, when Eli played football, I developed three hand signals between him and me because he just needed simple reminders during the game – which he had never played or hardly ever watched. I didn’t want to be constantly yelling at him for everyone to hear (at home is one thing) but sometimes he needed reminding of whether he was protecting the ball or trying to get the ball. So, as the quarterback, running back and receivers looked at the coach, my big guy would look at his mommy. I would hold my hands up in the air in the shape of an “O” to protect the ball, or I would hold up a fist to fight for ball, or I would chop my hands at my knees to remind him to stay low and hit low.
I am sharing a picture tonight of a sign that Eli and I saw at the Lighthouse & Museum on Naval Air Station near Pensacola, Florida. The Lighthouse was built in 1859 and has a museum attached to it now for visitors. Just before you turn to go up the 177 steps of spiral staircase, there is this door to the left. During this vacation, Eli had his inguinal hernia, so he was not interested in climbing the steps. He and I waited in this foyer as the others climbed which is when he spotted the confusing sign. To exit or not to exit? We just decided to retrace our steps and exit back the way we came in. Early in Eli’s journey, I wrote a post about getting confused with the signs when we first got to St. Jude. I got trapped in some kind of architectural mistake.
It is interesting how signs can be confusing because the reason a sign exists is to clarify. The most universal sign is the STOP sign. I can’t even type it without typing the word in all caps. The first idea of a STOP sign, or the idea that a driver had to watch out for the other driver, was introduced by William Eno, of the Eno Transportation Foundation, in an article he wrote for a magazine. Ironically, Eno, himself, could not drive. The streets just after the turn of the 20th century were chaotic and dirty as they were shared by horses, bicycles, and motorcars. It was a kind of “enter-at-your-own-risk” adventure to travel the road system. The first semblance of an actual STOP sign was installed in 1915 by the city of Detroit, Michigan, according to a 2011 New York Times article.
|We have a ton of hats that we enjoyed getting and|
having while Eli was in treatment. I asked him if he
wanted to wear one since it had been a while. He said,
"Why? I've got hair now. I want to show it off."
|My sister Wendy helping Eli make a cake-pop.|
|The front two chairs are ours, Hg is waiting her turn. |
Eli will be in on the next round.
included in St. Jude’s walkways. After his family learned that his situation was terminal, they needed funds to prepare for his final arrangements. As friends of Eli collected, Ryan’s family was able to collect enough for those arrangements, so we used the money we raised to donate to St. Jude via a brick in Ryan’s name. I received a packet with an artist’s rendition of the walkway, so I’ve tried to take a picture of it to share. I’m not sure when construction will be completed, but it looks like it will run alongside the west side of the gold dome building around to the garden. So, if you visit St. Jude, hunt for it. It says “In Honor of Ryan Kitchens, From Friends of Eli.”