Freudian Slips: The Game Ball

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

August 25, 2005

The Game Ball

The ashes of Gregory Richard Tornatore being interned.
Being hit from the rear in a fender bender accident on the way to an internment has an unsteady way of moving one forward in life. Life is full of bumps and bruises. My dad's life was besieged with the kind of setbacks that can scar you for life.
Four years following his passing, my father's ashes were laid to rest in a military ceremony at the Gloucester County Veterans Cemetary on August 22, 2005. Immediate family paid their respects to a man who went by husband, father, and grandpa. Dad served his country as a veteran of the Korean War so he earned a military sendoff. Four volunteer riflemen shot three volleys into the air and over his ashes. It was a 21 gun salute on the shy side. I had nothing but buried emotions until Taps was played on a bugle. Taps embodies sadness and melancholy in a blend that is both haunting and soulful. It is a song of only 24 notes but its power lies in evoking emotions of the deceased. While Taps was being played, I had flashbacks of my father teaching me how to grip the seams of a baseball then some thirty years later my laying a baseball in his casket. A cruel parley of thoughts.
So I returned from the interment to re-read the eulogy I delivered at my father's funeral three years ago. Reading it filled me with the deeper emotions I was not able to resurrect during the internment. This I undoubtably wanted. I wish to reprint the eulogy to illustrate, if nothing else, that long before the Freudian Slips blog was created, I thought of life in terms of irony. Irony has always been on my playing field for me to derive meaning from.
******
The Eulogy for Gregory Richard Tornatore 1929-2001
Although his son, I was not born of Gregory Richard Tornatore. Rather, he took me under his wing when he married my mother in 1964. He adopted me, gave me his hard to pronounce last name, and raised me to the adult who stands before you. My relationship with him was no different than that of any of my brothers. He was...my father too.
The last time I saw my dad alive was at the hospital on Saturday. Hospitals...dad knew all too well. Bedside, we shared a few light moments talking baseball. Baseball dad knew too well. During a more somber moment of the visit, I asked my father, if reflecting back on his life, did he harbor any bitterness or regrets. His answer came forthright.
"No regrets. Sons galore, a wonderful wife, steady jobs, and nice homes all of my life."
There are common denominators in life that help define us as human beings. As children, my brothers and I benefited as recipients of dad's caregiving. As adults, our roles reversed. Faced with dad's declining health and physical limitations, we had the opportunity to return caregiving to him.
There are also sad ironies in death that leave the living to wonder. Besides it being Good Friday, today is the anniversary of the 1985 operation that went terribly wrong and left Dad partially paralyzed. In the end, Dad lived to be 71 years old, a long time considering the length and course of his medical problems. I trust he is at peace now.
When I think of my dad, I envision toughness and courage in the wake of adversity. But more often than not, my memories often return to the game of baseball. Many of you know, dad loved baseball. In 1948, he was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies before an arm injury ended his baseball career.
Baseball, like life, has a game plan for all of us. Selfishly, I hoped dad's life would go a few more extra innings to see me re-marry this August. This was not to be. On the night my dad died, it is no coincidence that his last breaths came watching a Phillies broadcast, the very same evening I played baseball with my stepson ten miles away. This is the circle of life.
On behalf of your family and friends, we love you. From me, dad, you get my game ball.
******
People enter our lives like a knock on the door. Some leave our lives to the sound of Taps.

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18 Comments:

Blogger Zelda Parker said...

Joe,
Your Dad must be smiling upon you now as he did then. What a heartfelt and moving story. ET and D must be very proudof you!

6:45 AM  
Blogger eatmisery said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. I'm sure he knew you loved him.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

zelda,
moving, like my car forward.

eatmisery,
thanks.

12:24 PM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...

Joe, that was beautiful. Your father would be proud.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Babe,
Now you are teaching Jimmy the game that bound you and your father

3:16 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Pax,
life throws us curve balls doesn't it?

Diane,
You just told the world I am bound.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Medbh said...

very moving. I am sorry that you had to wait so long fore the military internment.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Medbh,
Thanks. Mom had trouble parting with his ashes when she did.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Joe,

Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for this lovely story. The best part, though, was in the comments. Hopeless romantic that I am, your one line about your mother not being able to part with your father's ashes spoke volumes.

Betty

8:22 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Betty,
Mom even waited for a Veteran's Cemetary to be built within walking distance to her home.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Mom said...

Joe, your eulogy is as beautiful today as it was four years ago. Dad would be so proud of the boy who became such a wonderful man. If he were here today, he would tell you himself and his chest would swell from his pride in you.

Was I that obvious in my unwillingness to give up his ashes? I tried to be brave; as brave as he was in dealing with his disabilities. At the last moment though, I weakened, just before his ashes were placed in the wall, I cried out, “Goodbye! I love you!” I silently screamed, “Please don’t leave me! “ Each note of Taps went straight to my heart and rendered it into a pulsating, searing ache that still echoes in my soul. Thanks for your writing of the day.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Et,
People enter out lives like a knock on the door. Some leave our lives with the sound of Taps. I should fit this line in my post.

9:57 AM  
Blogger lilly05 said...

You certainly have a way with words Joe. I am touched by your eulogy and hope that I can be as eloquent when the time comes for my Dad.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

lilly,
A captive audience a eulogy implies.

9:56 AM  
Blogger the Contrary Goddess said...

I just have to say, don'cha LOVE those guys that go out there and put on those uniforms and shoot off those blanks and play that bugle and fold that flag? *I* love those guys.

Your good Joe.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

Contrary,
yes, it puts the retire in retirement.

7:18 PM  
Blogger H. Stallard said...

When my Dad died, some of “those guys” from the local VFW post did the honors at the graveside. Most were about the same age as Dad. Afterwards we invited them to the house (about 100 yards past the cemetery) for something to eat. Sitting there listening to them swap old war stories (like Dad used to do) was one of the things that helped me get through that day. I love those guys too!

8:04 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

H.Stallard,
Listening to war stories one can learn to appreciate the peace.

10:07 PM  

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