Life's Semicolons

by Elana Roth Parker in


This won't mean much to most of you, but Ernie Harwell died. He was a longtime baseball broadcaster in Detroit, for some crazy 50 years. Sure, he was still the steady voice of the Detroit Tigers when I was growing up, but he was more of a steady presence for my father, who'd listened to him for his entire life. 

This morning my dad sent me a text message (well, 2 because it was so long) saying:

Ernie Harwell's passing is one of those life's semicolons; causing those, at least of my generation, to pause and ponder the passing of one of those subtle constants that moors one's life. He epitomized baseball which in itself epitomizes certain immutable values of Americana. His passing is worth noting.

While I really enjoy my father's actual use of a semicolon after using that phrase (because I'm like that), and how eloquent my father can be over text message (he also says OMG when texting about hockey), I've always liked that expression. That built-in moment in life of stopping to think, "Huh." 

It's weird to think about things from your childhood no longer existing...especially when they are people. That sense of nostalgia is so bittersweet, because it's a great memory but you get slapped upside the head by the impermanence of pretty much anything. The things that feel constant won't be forever. 

Not to make myself seem stupid and young, but I imagine this must happen so much more often the older you get. My parents are both turning 60 this year, and while I don't think that's old by any stretch, I'm sure they're spending a lot of time going "How did THAT happen?" Hell, I think that as I get closer to 30. It's young, but not that young. There's so much left to do.

But back to the point, I'm sad about Ernie Harwell. He retired several years ago, but it's weird to think of that being permanently done. And I'm sad for my dad, who gets hit really hard by his sentimentality and nostalgia. But at least he has the entire Ernie Harwell box set to listen to and think about great things like baseball.