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Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney

Dec. 15, 2003

My Biggest Fan Is Gone...

The one thing that I could always count on was that my Mom would be there for me; win or lose. No matter how poorly I pitched, or how badly my team got beaten, she would find something positive to say. When I was young, I would ask her to please let me have time alone with my thoughts after a loss. It didn't matter to me that I only gave up two runs and the team committed three errors...I still had lost.

She lived with the fear that I would get fired each year. The won-lost record was important to her because she was a product of The Great Depression, when keeping a job, any job, was critical. She was proud of what I did because baseball was her passion, and I get the chance to live it. At the end of each season, no matter where I was coaching, she would ask me if I thought they would renew my contract. Amazingly, it has gone on for quite some time.

Mom was a Yankees' fan from the days of Babe Ruth to the boys of Joe Torre. As she said in her handwritten obituary, "she knew them all". She was always ready to throw to my brother and me in the backyard, and she lived for our games. I am happy that the path my life took brought her some pride and joy.

My dream of having her at our house for Thanksgiving and Christmas didn't work. She didn't want to get out of her bed once she got down here. The pain from her cancer had increased to a point where we needed stronger medication. The problem was the side effects made her more disoriented the last week or so.

But Mom got to be with her family every day right to the end.

Jim and I were listening to the FAU-Northern Arizona postgame, when I noticed she had stopped breathing. It was that easy at the end. Hospice by the Sea in Boca made her last day a peaceful one for Mom and us. She had Jeff and the kids and Mary Beth and I talking to her the whole day, and she was ready to go.

My Dad passed away in 1985, and Mom was longing to join him.

Mother Theresa said, " the greatest gift is to be loved." Mom was loved and she returned that to her family tenfold.

I came across a letter my Dad wrote to her at Christmas in 1942. They had been married a year and he was at an Army Air Corp base in Arkansas and she was back in Scranton. He called it " A Christmas Present to My Wife".

The last part went like this: "So in this Holy Season of Christmas let us not think of our loneliness but to pray to God that through his Divine Son we may soon pursue the life of happiness and contentment we planned together. And with these thoughts in mind I send to you sweetheart, my heartfelt wishes for a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

With All My Love,
Your Devoted Husband,
Joseph Francis Cooney

I miss them both, but now they're together. KC



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