Deadwood

Picture from HBO.com

My friend Perry sent me a link to Mark Singer’s interview with David Milch in The New Yorker. I know of David Milch because Dad is a fan of westerns and Milch created the HBO series Deadwood.

The interview describes Milch’s journey through his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, a disease which is a significant fear for any thoughtful, creative, breathing human. To be of sound body but untrustworthy mind. To be robbed of memories created with loved ones over the course of a life is terrifying. Already, I have experienced moments where I struggle finding the exact word I’m looking for or have no recollection of a particular event ever taking place, only to later find a picture of my goofy grin at said venue.

It took me far too long to finish reading the interview as I got stuck at a single paragraph. “That part really gets me,” Perry said in her note. Halfway through the piece Milch says, “I’m thinking of playing catch with my son, Ben, teaching him to play catch. The particular kind of reverence that you feel for that process, for what you know it will mean to him. To catch the ball and to throw it back right, and to know that I’m proud of him.” 

The catch-playing year coincided with the beginning of Kaylea’s senior year in high school and Sophie’s last year in middle school. I am fully aware of the significance of those transitional times in life, those moments we look back at in wonder on our impressionable selves and wish we could offer some words of advice and warning and encouragement. I remember well my senior year, full of doubts and regrets and anxiety. I remember eighth grade year too, praying for a growth spurt and girlfriend.

This is why I write: to help me not forget.

I don’t want to forget the day Dad and I made our trip to the iconic Field of Dreams movie site and played catch. I don’t want to forget playing catch with my daughters outside our hotel room before going to Universal Studios and creating memories and riding coasters. I don’t want to forget playing catch the day Nate introduced me to his dog Lucky or the day the sleet bounced off my glasses before church with Harper or the day Nic told me about Alex Gordon or the day Matthew ran the bases and slid into home. I don’t want to forget Perry’s stories at Beyer Stadium or walking where Jackie walked in Daytona or Hunter’s reassuring words, “You’ve got talent.”

One year ago, my family was in the middle of the Catch 365 Tour of Hope. Those ten days of adventures on the road were some of the best days of my life. Not a week passes that I don’t look at the pictures of Kansas City and Omaha and Sioux Falls and Wallingford and Chicago. I’m ready to pack up the Bryan Family Millennium Falcon and do it again; I’m still hoping and dreaming of a first pitch offer from the Royals.

Milch continued, “The opportunity to do those things is transferrable to the artistic process as well — the process of passing on, for better or worse, as well as one can, what you’ve learned. And blessing him on the voyage that he’ll begin. Those are special and particular opportunities that are given an artist.”

This is what I hope to capture in the Catch 365 book, some of those lessons I learned over the year that I don’t want my daughters to forget, and that they have my fullest blessings in their lives as artists.

I agree with Milch that playing catch is a reverent process widely applicable to all of life and I hope with everything in me he follows through with his desire to play catch with his son. A “special and particular opportunity,” playing catch truly does bring people together in creating memories for a lifetime.