Thursday, January 3, 2013

TING AND I, Step-fathering

From Ting and I: A Memoir...


Moving from Millwood and Ledgewood Commons was a real loss for Phil, as he had good friends nearby and loved to play basketball on the condo’s court, swim in the pool, sled down the hill. He would be fifty miles from this. I told him I would take the hour’s drive with him any weekend he wanted to visit his friends and that I would get a basketball hoop built in our own backyard. We did make a few visits, may have had some friends back as guests, and the basketball set-up was among the first items completed at our Ramsey, NJ, home. With Tina’s ability to walk declining precipitously, Phil understood why we had to leave Millwood and didn’t complain about it.



For Phil it was a new town and a new school, Smith Middle School, a half-mile away, a good bike-riding distance, rather safe. Phil made friends easily, did well. He was active in soccer and basketball and well liked.

Phil’s involvement in sports gave us many pleasant memories. Soccer in the fall found me helping to coach, with Tina sitting in the stands with other soccer moms (and soccer dads). Not much scoring, but a lot of running around. After a while, you get to recognize near-scoring opportunities, which are dramatic in the low-scoring games.

He was not chosen for the sixth-grade basketball team, however, partly because he was unknown and still short. I told him he would eventually excel, if he chose to, and that by his senior year he could be a starter. I suggested that he work hard on jumping high, because that would offset any height deficit he might have. Players like Calvin Murphy had been successful basketball pros, even though less than 6 feet tall, because of their jumping ability. I also told Phil that it was better to excel in one sport than not excel in several and that I did not want him playing football, as I knew too well how easily one could get injured. He took all this to heart. He worked on his jumping. He lifted weights to get strong. He grew to be a strong, though light, 6’3” and was effectively even taller than that because of his jumping ability.

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