The Quest of the Plastic Trophy and the Game Babe Ruth Calls “The Greatest Game in the World”

I’m the mom of three grown boys. With the experience of growing up with just one sister, I was unprepared for the active, boisterous life of 3 boys. The running, wrestling, the laughter, tears and relentless teasing until the youngest cried uncle all were like a tornado all under one roof in the confines of our home. But as I stand in the stillness of this home now that my boys are grown, I stare at the finger prints left behind on the wall above me that I could somehow not bare to scrub clean. Those finger prints high above at the bottom of the stairs up to their bedrooms bring back memories of the slam of the door, a sports bag thrown on the floor filled with a dirty uniform just for me, and the leap in the air to touch as high a point as one could reach before bounding up the stairs for a quick shower after a game. Oh, and the beloved shout, of ” hey, Mom, I’m home. What’s for dinner?”

As young parents, we were a bit over zealous when my first son, Jacob, showed the first hint of athletic ability. Like the drove of families around us, we joined them in the wave of activities that caused some psychologist to write a book titled “The Over Committed Child. “. Swimming lessons at 6 months, karate at age 4, soccer, basketball, football, baseball and rounded out with piano lessons and violin lessons, my oldest child survived our enthusiasm and settled into a reasonable routine of football and choir by high school. He tried the world of baseball at age 7, but when we would stand on the sidelines with camera ready for his big moment and that moment ended up being the coach yelling from the dugout to the outfield, “take the glove off your head,” we soon discovered that the “greatest game in the world” was not for him.

When my middle child, Tyler, came of age to begin the quest of the plastic trophy, he had inside of him the same fierce enthusiasm as we did as parents of our first born. He was ready to try anything and everything that his brother did before him. However, by that time his dad and I had read The Overcommitted Child and were quickly realizing that these activities cost money of which we were running out. When he asked to take karate lessons at age 6 thinking it was his rite of passage after being dragged for years to all of his older brother’s weekly lessons, I quickly brainstormed and in a flash of brilliance slowly asked him. “Well, show me your moves?” After a few kicks, swiping arm movements in the air, and shouts of “hyayh”. I sat back as if analyzing and out of my mouth came the words that saved me from another year of sitting in that small gym watching little ninja warriors. “Honey, you do not need lessons. Those Power Ranger episodes you’ve been watching must be working cause you look like an expert.” And off he went happily slashing the air at imaginary opponents until years later he realized he’d been duped!
The first time this little one put on a baseball uniform, from the beginning he showed such commitment, he would have made Babe Ruth proud. With quick hands and reflexes, he quickly showed an aptitude for the sport. After many years represented by numerous oversized plastic trophies that adorned his room, Tyler turned his attention to other achievements some of which were an active social life and girls. He too, finally settled into a reasonable routine of football and choir by high school.

With two beautiful healthy active boys and into my late thirties, everyone thought our family was complete. So when I announced my pregnancy at age 37 at a family gathering, my sweet father reacted impulsively not with “congratulations, but the words that now make me smile “you’re shi–ing me?” For years after this third boy was born, he was secretly, lovingly, jokingly behind his back referred to as “you’re shi–ing me.”

By the time “you’re shi–ing me” was old enough to enter the sports arena as his brothers before him, we were in our 40s and had sat on the bleachers of every sport offered in our community. We were tired, so when fellow parents would walk up to me and ask innocently “are you signing Jordan up for T-ball.” I would block the intruder from our youngest and shush them with a finger over my mouth and whisper ” shhh, we don’t want him to know it exists yet.” So desperate to be like his older brothers, this youngest wanted to sing. But try as he might to be like his 5′ 8″ song bird, strong football playing brothers. He grew to be a lanky 6′ 3″ with an instinctive ability to catch, throw, and hit a baseball with no musical ability, except he could dance. All three of my boys could have given Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 a run for their money, except of the Cox 3 the third one could not sing, However, your shi–ing me” could throw a baseball.

Jordan’s first experience with baseball was coaches’ pitch. His coach was Terry Bohl. Terry saw something in Jordan that he thought was very special and so my husband and I were already counting the money in our heads and picturing ourselves in front row seats at professional baseball games when Jordan was just 7. But Jordan, as good of an athlete as he was, had a few quirky characteristics that were drastically going to affect his professional baseball career and our front row seats in our delusional eyes. Whether it was due to lack of good parenting being older tired parents with a third born or just part of his personality, Jordan was a fit thrower. We finally warned him after too many chances that if he threw one more fit at baseball practice or a game that we would pick him up and take him home. “And, that’s a promise, my husband declared one day after a foot stomping pouting fit.
So what were we thinking.
Well, we weren’t. We had no intentions of following through with that threat and ignorantly thought that the power of our words and threat would be enough to end the fits for good because by that time we had also read the book, The Strong Willed Child. We were experts.

But the day came when the Cox family became infamous at our small local
Baseball park. Coach Terry had an assigned field for practice that day at the farthest point from our parked car. Practice was going well until Jordan, who at that time had a tendency to throw his bat accidentally when he hit was up to bat. He swung and hit a ball so far it made his coach chuckle and shake his head, but he also threw the bat. Misreading what his coach meant by that gesture, our little hurricane picked up his bat bag, wailed and through the bag down in one dramatic motion. My husband and I instantly locked eyes and mouthed across the field “oh, crap, now we have to follow through. So Kyle scooped Jordan up and carried him like a 2×4 plank across his chest with his arms wrapped around him and marched through what seemed like a sea of perfectly behaved children and model parents. I walked with my head down behind them as people would touch my arm and ask” is everything ok? All the while, Jordan was bellowing at the top of his lungs ” you’re choking me.” We waited anxiously all evening, but a call from child protective services never came.

That same year it was determined that Jordan’s future baseball career would not be as a catcher. We marked that position off our dream list the day Coach Terry told him that he had to wear a cup if he wanted to be catcher. I could see the storm brewing and his body tense so I quickly stepped in and told Jordan. Let’s be catcher next time and we will practice wearing a cup at home. Amazingly, my suggestion worked. So the next day, Jordan put on his baseball uniform and placed the dreaded cup in its rightful spot to shield and protect and we went outside to practice walking in our cul de sac. It was pathetic as we walked together with him walking slowly moaning and wailing “Its touching my legs. It’s touching my legs.” I said back to him. “That’s not all its touching. You are wearing it. “. After a few nights of this agony, Jordan gave up his dream of being the catcher. As the years past, our little fit thrower mellowed out so much that his senior year he received a sports mental attitude award. It might be due to his developing personality, but I like to think it was Kyle’s and my expert parenting.

Oh, the quest of the plastic trophy, we have many stored in our attic, but what I value most is these memories of young parents who didn’t know what they were doing and three boys who brought us joy! I love all three just the way they are. They don’t need to be major league ball players. I just enjoy having front row seats to their day to day lives. Your sh–ting Me is still pursuing a baseball career at the University of Dayton, not as a catcher, but a pitcher! Lol

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Let Me Introduce Myself, I am Titanium, I am Kinky, I am Magnetic

On the bell curve my life would be about average. My math ability would be slightly below, verbal ability slightly above, but most everything else about me and all of my experiences would be considered right at average on a bell curve. That is until I faced my 49th year of life. Then the world I knew shifted on me, and I found myself having experiences that were considered statistically rare. Oh, how I longed for the top of that bell curve again.
In 2010 after an MRI that both my doctor and I thought was going to show a simple pinched nerve, I got a call from my doctor saying, “well, this might not be life-threatening, but it will be life altering.” She was right. From February 2010 I have been on a medical roller coaster ride.
Between 2010 – 2012. I have had one surgery to partially remove a benign tumor on my cervical spine. Thirty percent of it was too dangerous to remove. This left me with 14 titanium screws. Another surgery to implant a shunt in an arachnoid cyst that pushes on my cervical spine. A third surgery to fix the tubing on that shunt when it kinked, like a hose kinks, and a fourth surgery to put a magnetic valve on the shunt to stop it from over draining spinal fluid into my pleural cavity, the lining of your lungs. So in two years time, we could say that I am titanium, I am kinky, I am magnetic. I am basically bionic. And now that I box well ,you might not want to mess with me! Lol. For the rest my life I will have a tumor on my spine that threatens to again grow and a cyst that will always need to be controlled by a shunt.

I kept looking for the light at the end of this medical nightmare. I wanted it to be over. I am so grateful for all of the people who stood beside me and helped me through those years. It is humbling to lose your independence.

With the next few years my health continued on that roller coaster ride. A little better at times it seemed, but mainly a series of bad news. Eight times I had to have my lung drained due too shunt malfunctioning. This caused my brain to sag. Yes, at an age when so many other things were sagging, my brain was sagging too. Lol Most troubling was that I was experiencing new symptoms that my doctors could not explain, and they didn’t seem concerned. I went to Dr. Google. I am notorious for getting myself in a frenzy and diagnosing myself with all kinds of conditions I don’t have going to Dr. Google. Unfortunately, this time Dr. Google was right on. The first time I verbalized my suspicion was to my mother, and I expected her to say that is ridiculous. Instead she held me and said if you have this, then it will be all right. My symptoms fit Parkinson’s disease perfectly. Ok, God, really?
A tumor, a cyst, and now Parkinson’s disease? What about the lottery or Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, winning at slots in Vegas? I promise could’ve handled that. That is why I call my three diagnoses “the trifecta.” What are the odds?

I found refuge in my closet. My favorite place to cry. Often I would hear the words, “mom is crying in the closet again.” I watched my body succumb to to the attacks of Parkinson’s. I started to walk with a cane, I was losing my balance, and I had constant fatigue. My gross motor movements were slow and difficult, and my lack of hand function made me believe that I would soon have to quit my profession of being a school guidance counselor. A part of my life that I love. The medications prescribed to me were not working and my doctors were unsure which of my three diagnoses were causing my symptoms. But with the encouragement of friends and family I got out of that closet and fought physically with exercise and battled my way to Cleveland Clinic. On July 28th, 2015, I went to Cleveland clinic to see a movement disorder specialist.

In the beginning I did not respond to Levodopa, the standard Parkinson’s med, and so when I left that day with a levodopa prescription, I was not too hopeful, especially knowing that In five days I had to go back to work.
The next day I filled that prescription and took the first pill and in two hours after taking that pill, my body was back to almost full functioning. I was better than before my first surgery in 2010. With that appointment only being five days before my first day at work and thinking I was possibly going to have to quit my job, this was nothing short of a miracle to me. I can move, dance,shout, sing sorta, swing my arms when I walk, gesture. All of those things that I took for granted before. I still have Parkinson’s disease and it is a regressive disorder, but for an undetermined amount of time, i am better, but I will regress again at some point. As much as I fight, and oh I will, There is not a cure YET. One of my fears I had to over come Is …..Some Day when I can no longer button my shirt, walk unassisted, speak up so people can hear me, when my body fails what worth will I have to others except to be a burden.
I have changed that perspective after carefully watching the world around me. I am reassured that each of us has a purpose and gifts in this life and we each have a lasting legacy of the good works until our last breath. Yes, if you have a loved one lying in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, Cancer, I could go on and on, they are teaching us something. Listen and learn. A big lesson: SLOW DOWN
Take time, be still, , reach out, don’t sweat small stuff, appreciate, And LOVE.
Well, that’s me. Hello, my name is Lisa Cox. That’s my story. That’s my fight. That’s why I write this blog. And your name is? What’s your story? I welcome you to share it. There is healing in our stories. It’s nice to meet you!

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Bon Voyage

Bon Voyage, Everyone! I know the typical greeting for this night is Happy New Year, but bringing in the new feels like going on a new journey for me, so I say Bon Voyage!

I’m not particularly fond of This holiday, New Year’s Eve. I was just getting comfortable with 2016 and now we have to move on? I’m not ready. My bags are not packed. 2016 was starting to feel like a comfortable pair of shoes and now I have to break in a new pair? Usually, I like new shoes, but not these new shoes. See, I’m not the optimistic ” glass half- full” kind-of girl that you all might be imaging from these posts. Underneath the humor and the zest for life is a girl who really likes old comfortable shoes and the familiar path she’s on.

2017 for me feels like getting off the boat I was on to which I am clinging and being thrown on to a new boat and forced to go on a new unknown journey.

I know that this new journey will have sunny days of warm beautiful weather when I will soak in the view from the deck and nights where I will hang over the edge of the railing to see what’s coming next ( sort of like in the Titanic with Leo DiCaprio, I mean my husband, behind me). 😀
However, there will also be storms, squalls, and wait, remember the Titanic? There could be a possible giant ice burg hidden beneath the surface on this new journey. Wait, I hear the captain calling out. Oh yeah, it’s the same captain I let steer my boat of 2016, although this captain would probably say that I tried to grab the wheel from Him many times last year. The same captain who planned my journey before I was born, knows the course I am on, and has prepared a great celebration for whenever it is time for the journeys to end is steering this boat of 2017. So don’t hide below the deck in your cabins everyone, hang over the railing to see what’s ahead. The Captain has an amazing journey planned. So I release my grip on 2016. Step on to 2017. And Captain, ” I’ll trust you with what’s ahead and try to keep my hands off the wheel!” Bring it on 2017 blisters and all. I think I’ll go shop for new shoes on Monday. There have to be good “break in the new” sales, right?

Bon Voyage, Everyone and Happy New Year!

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To My Favorite

I have raised three boys. I am officially now an empty nester. This letter is to my favorite boy.

Dear Son,
This letter may come as a shock to you at first but I am going to admit to you that I have a favorite. I have three boys who I love fiercely, and yes I have a favorite. At times I think of you all equally, and other times clearly one stands out among the others. What you don’t understand is that favorite fluctuates with the circumstances that each of you are in, and it also fluctuates in the moments that each of you need me the most. Times that I can remember that you may have felt my favoritism towards the other two are times that they have had great success that needs to be celebrated by this family and times they have had great pain and emotional hurt that they need my support. I won’t speak of the others without them being present. For you, the times that you have been my favorite are oh so many. You captured my heart so many ways through your growing years.
Sometimes I feel that you needed me to speak truth to you, which is not always easy, fun, or comfortable. I have three boys, and God has given me an abundant love for all three at the same time. Yes, at times it may have seemed like one was getting more attention than the other, and that is true. When it’s not your turn, I expect for you to wait patiently until you have my full attention out of love for your brothers. My sweet boy, I cannot always be there for you in your times of need, but I know who is always there for you. Turn to God in prayer and break out that Bible on your phone and let him speak to you through his Word. If you do that, I know you will always be ok. I know God has a plan for your life and it’s time for you to live it!

Now for me, I have to adjust to life with only your dad and me rattling around this quiet home. Lord help me he’s looking at RV’s.
Love you,
Mom

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A Trbute to My Mother

I know. I know. I should’ve taken her class in high school. As you read my posts and cringe at the occasional run on sentence, misplacement of commas and semi colons, the confusion with lie, lay, who and whom, know that my mother was a High School Business English teacher, and I chose not to take her class. If my grammar makes you cringe and you want to correct me through comments, have at it. My mother will get a good laugh and an “I told you so” out of it.

Before I learned song format, I wrote a song about my mom and her love for grammar. It really is more of a poem than a song. So as a tribute to my mother and all the years she has tried to correct my grammar, I give you…….

Mama, I Love You Real Good

My mama was a grammar teacher when I was in school.
I didn’t take her class because I was too cool. She said that I would some day regret it.
Mama I love you,
but your grammar,
forget it

Me and my man is doing just alright. Me and him go dancing every Saturday night
Ain’t got no reason for fancy words.
Learnin that grammar is just for nerds

Mama I seen you just the other day.
Didn’t understand why you shook your head and prayed.
I done good when I was in school.
Mama remember how I was so cool.
learnin that grammar I know I should.
Mama stop your cringing you know I love you real good.

Maybe I should have went and taken your class. But this country girl got too much sass

Don’t, doesn’t Saw, seen, went, and, gone
All of these words I know I’m getting wrong.
If I’d gone listened to my mama’s teachin
I wouldn’t have to listen now to all of her preachin

Where do I put that apostrophe?
Mama, I don’t care it don’t bother me.

Maybe I should have learned it when I was in school
But remember mom, I was so cool.

learnin that grammar I know I should
Mama stop your cringing you know I love you real good.

Picture: My Mom, Me, and Creepy Photo Bomb Santa

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Let’s Celebrate

My mom looked at me and with a chuckle and slight irritation, nodded and said, “put them in the cart.” And so the red cowboy boots are how I closed out my 56th birthday. It was early October. My birthday is August 24th. I used to sulk and avoid my birthday. I’m not sure why, but at age 49 that attitude changed with the tidal wave of news from doctors that kept battering me over the past 7 years. Now I celebrate my birthday with new vigor. My mom and sister would say I celebrate it like an obnoxious freight train for 5 months. The three of us always gather for an annual shopping trip in May that is supposed to commemorate the date of my sister’s birth. Somehow over the years that day also has become known as “The opening ceremonies” of my birthday. Let the celebration begin! Yes, just as the Olympics, now my birthday has become a sport worthy of its own opening and closing ceremonies. Its’s not that I eat cake and ice cream every day for 5 months, it’s more like if I have to make a decision like should I buy these shoes on clearance or not? I just think to myself, “well, it is my birthday!” And there you go, decision made. Now some of you may think this is terribly self-centered, but I say there is only one Me. There is only one you. And in a world where so many people live without knowing that they are worthy and ok just for who they are, I say let’s turn that around With the attitude that people are worth celebrating for more than a day. Some of you may see this as a flaw in my character. I see it as positive and joyful. Some of you may see this as terribly immature. I see it as fun and oh so much better than sulking and pouting. I bought my friend some earrings in September cause, cause you know, “it was her birthday,” not really, but why wait. Life is short, so treat yourself well. Treat others well. Spread the joy. Have some fun. And pass the cake. Let’s celebrate!

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I Finally Got My Big Break!

Yes, it happened. I finally got my big break in life. It took 56 years and a lot of hard work and a little fate, but it happened. I wasn’t prepared for it, but sometimes the big break happens when you least expect it and it changes the plans you had and the direction you were going. Yes, my big break happened yesterday, and before you flood me with comments of congratulations, let me pause a moment. I need to take a little medicine for pain. As I lie here on my bed with my foot propped up on a pillow, I have a different day ahead of me than I had planned.

I wish I could say that I broke a bone in my foot skiing double black diamonds or training for a marathon, but no. I was jumping rope. It was the last station of my Workout
At Rock Steady Boxing. I usually skip the jumping rope part of the workout, because, well you know, after delivering three babies, one of which was ll pounds, jump roping may as well be a double black diamond from my bladder’s point of view.

I had a great work out and this time I would not let the jump rope intimidate me. My bladder said, “ok. I’m not sure about this, but bring it on!” I could hear the Rocky music playing in my head, and in the final seconds as I heard the dinging noise that indicates that the round is about to end, it happened.
Ever so subtly without notice, the rope hit my right foot and twisted it enough so that I landed on the outside edge of my foot. I felt a small twinge of pain, but getting my big break that day never entered my mind. Slowly, over the next few hours, my foot became a painful melon and I was off to urgent care.

So here I am in bed a day later with no shower, eating Ramen noodles, saying over and over in my mind. “Bladder, I should have listened to you.” However, nothing I can do can change the fact that I got my big break yesterday. I was honored with a boot that I will wear with humble pride for 6 weeks. I have given my acceptance speech over and over. People want to hear how I jumped through the hoops and broke through to change my destiny. I just tell them, “life is full of surprises. Work hard and your big break will come some day, too.”

Yes, you never know when you will get your big break in life, but excuse me, I need to pause for a moment. I need to ring this bell next to my bed to get my husband to bring me another ice pack, adjust the tv so I can see better, and perhaps a bowl of ice cream. My big break is his big break too!!

Live fearlessly today those of you checking off lists and getting things done. As for me, I might have a second bowl of ice cream to celebrate my big break.