In a span of a week or so in that final week of August, I was barred from returning to a medical facility where my ailing father was recuperating, my mother was recovering in another hospital after having knee replacement surgery, I talked a police officer out of arresting a friend’s father for public drunkenness by promising to take care of him and I was preparing for my last semester of college.
I had also turned 21 a few months earlier and in those days that was the age when you could begin buying beer. The temptation of youthful alcoholic indulgence was prevalent that summer as well.
Looking back, I guess it was the time I began learning how to deal with things on my own and not rely on others. It was a valuable lesson that I used once the safety net of parents, family and others were no longer available.
The Minnesota Twins were mired in last place in baseball that year, so there was no solace there. Pat Benatar was singin’ “Fire and Ice” then and Joey Scarbury entered into one hit wonder realm with his theme to the “Greatest American Hero” show. No help there, either.
It was the first time I was really alone. My father, who passed away six years later, wasn’t doing well and my mother, who went in for her first knee surgery, decided to put him in a nursing home/rehabilitative care center while she went through her procedure. I drove the 40 miles to see him one day in Thayer, Mo., and, after I was stunned at the condition he was in, flailed out at the director in shock and fear. He ended up calling my mother, who was recovering in her own hospital bed, and said I was a “problem” and was no longer allowed there.
I returned home and later that week was with a friend who’s father was picked up for drinking in public. I went to the local police station at 2 a.m. and convinced the arresting officer I would take him home and ensure he would not drive so to avoid him spending a night in the slammer. The cop agreed to my conditions and, for the first time, I felt like I was treated like an adult.
Weird times back then. Both my parents were gone for that week and I was supervising myself. It was a point of separating the youngster that I had been and the adult I needed to become.
And like I’ve said so many times here already, the APBA game was the connecting thread through it all. The games were still there, waiting for me to escape in them when I had time. College was looming ahead and I wouldn’t have much time, but the escape was available when I needed it.
Looking back at August 1981, I did need that escape.