About three weeks later than last year, I got my official letter and agenda for the Juegos de Viejos weekend down in Saltillo, which is to commence Friday, May 27th and wrap-up with Sunday's game on the 29th.
I quickly glanced at the agenda, which included, of course, an old-timers dinner the night of the 27th, a trip to a local orphanage and practice and another, informal, team dinner on the 28th. And then a tribute to Hector and the game itself on the 29th.
I immediately picked up the phone and dialed Teresa Quesadilla, Hector's wife of so many years.
"Teresa," I said as she picked up. I spoke in my broken doorman's Spanish which, since my year in the league has lay roughly fallow except for vacations and the like.
"I will be coming down to Saltillo to tip my hat once again to Father Hector."
"You will stay in my house," Teresa said. It was by no means a question.
"Yes, I said. I will stay in your house." And she hung up the phone.
When Hector died two Decembers ago, I had vowed to be a better surrogate son to Teresa. She was more than a mother to me when I played ball for the Seraperos. The truth is, she showed me more love, more positive regard in the few months I lived with her in the Summer of 1975 than my mother had done in the 17 years I lived with her.
Of course, when Hector died, and I looked at this small woman in her big house, I vowed that I would visit, write and call more often. But life makes a heel out of us all, and our best of intentions are often seen smoking and with the hood up on the side of the road.
Since Hector's death, I have visited Teresa just once--at last year's Juegos de Viejos and I've called and written not much more often.
I had meant to be a good man and take Teresa under my wing--as she and Hector had taken me under hers. But, in all, I had started a new job, put in a new kitchen and have been too busy being busy to be a good son. Why is it that everything seems more important than the ones we love? Why do we have time for everything save what's really important?
I fully meant to call Teresa back. But like a lot of people of her generation, and mine, she does not like to speak on the phone. My daughters will think nothing of speaking for an hour or two. Teresa just wants to know you're not lying in a ditch somewhere. That is enough for her.
Between now and the Juegos de Viejos weekend, I have plenty to do. I am flying to Austin, Texas early tomorrow morning for some sort of offsite, then heading down to the Jersey shore to see my cousins this weekend, then I am heading up to Cape Cod for a week of R&R.
And all that is good, and things I can look forward to.
But mostly for the next three weeks, I will think of Teresa, of Hector, and how I can get through another Old Timers' game without hurting or embarrassing myself.