Since he was a lifelong fan, I planned to leave some of his ashes at Yankee Stadium.
It happened that the anniversary was a day when the Yankees were in town during Derek Jeter's last season and it also happened to be Paul O'Neill bobble head day. Paul O'Neill was my favorite Yankee so to me it was a no-brainer. A baseball game...a bobble head doll...maybe a beer...and a bag of ashes. What more could he ask for from me?
Well, for a $10.00 donation to the Yankee's charity foundation, I could put his name on the Jumbo-tron. For some reason, I found it insanely funny envisioning "The New York Yankees Welcome Wingman" knowing that part of him was resting in Monument Park.
I broached the subject first with son #2. "Mom, we'll get arrested!" he cried in dismay. "It's illegal!" I guess the idea of an orange jumpsuit wasn't part of his planned summer wardrobe, so I backed off a little with him. Then I told son #3 my intentions. "Isn't that illegal?" he asked. I replied "Do you really think they'd arrest a widow?" A friend of mine sprinkled his buddy's ashes on Babe Ruth's plaque with no problems. But since both of them said "illegal" I Googled whether or not it it was. Turns out, many have had the same idea over the years. Boom.
Last Sunday, we headed to Yankee Stadium. In my handbag were three small plastic bottles filled with ashes-one for me, one for son #3 and one for Wingman's brother. Son #2 begged off, saying he would be arriving by train just before game time so he would miss my planned memorial. I figured he was armed with a credit card in case he had to bail us out. The brother said as we climbed into his truck "You know this is illegal, don't you?" Even he doubted we would leave the stadium without wrist jewelry.
The last time we went to Monument Park in old Yankee Stadium, it was spacious, very empty of people and very full of plants and flowers to scatter ashes. The new Monument Park is a concrete jungle-row upon row of plaques mounted on walls with just a few small flowers in the middle. Plus, there were HUNDREDS of people packed into this very small space. I started panicking.
His name was shown in the third inning, and if the Yankees could have pulled it out in the ninth, it would have been a perfect day to remember. And that might have been the end of the story...except for the other ashes I brought to the game. I took them out of my purse when I got home, and put them on the kitchen table, intending to take care of it later. Five days later, the two small vials were still there.
I was on the phone with my BFF when I heard the dog chewing on something. The beast jumped up and grabbed one and was calmly chomping away. I screamed down to son #3 "THE DOG HAS YOUR FATHER IN HIS MOUTH!!!" which started a unintentional game of keep away between the two of us versus him. I grabbed a package of cheese from the fridge to entice him to drop it and it worked. My son took the slobbering bottle and handed it to me with the stern admonition to "Put Dad back where he belongs."
So now he's out of the bottles and back in the closet. If anyone is going to a baseball stadium in the United States and is so inclined, Wingman always wanted to tour every stadium. So a little of his ashes here and there could go a long way. Only not to Fenway Park. I couldn't do that to the man who only rooted for the Yankees...and whoever was playing the Red Sox.