Posts tagged ‘tennis’

August 6, 2011

Doubles with People with Parkinson’s

My nephew, YC, and I played doubles with my husband, C, and his brother, J, who both have Parkinson’s Disease. In their day, the brothers had killer shots. But on this summer sunny Sunday morning, it wasn’t their shots that failed, it was their legs.

J was my partner. He fell several times. Even though he landed face first on the clay court, he usually returned the volley within our opponent’s white lines.

“I’m fine. I’m fine,” J said as he struggled to stand. “Keep playing.”

“The point’s over. We won,” I said. He and C’s shots were still, many times, unreturnable.

I glanced across the net at YC, who is about to be a college Senior. We smiled at each other, asking with our knit eyebrows, “Should we keep playing? Is this crazy?”

Just last summer when playing one of these tennis games with my husband, he fell and we landed in the ER. He had dislocated his pinkie.

from creative commons. Tennis balls on a clay court.

That day, C had said to me, “Just pull my finger. It’ll be fine. Then we can keep playing.”

“No, I won’t,” I said. I have my limits and apparently relocating a dislocated pinkie is one of them.

So I knew that tennis with a Parkinson’s partner was fraught with possible negative consequences. But this summer morning we played on. My nephew and I continued smiling, almost laughing, sympathizing with one another. We were trying to take our cue from each other. But neither of us wanted to call off the game. We all wanted to keep playing, to stay competitive, to win.

Fortunately, I had to shower before Sunday chapel service. We didn’t play much longer. There were no serious injuries; although there were minor ones, like scraped knees.

While the people with Parkinson’s may believe they’re “fine, fine, keep playing,” those around them may wonder if that is true or wise.

If you ever do play mixed doubles with two brothers who have Parkinson’s Disease, I advice you to smile a lot. Even laugh. Because life is ridiculous. And everyone wants to keep playing for as long as possible.

Advertisements
July 27, 2010

Zennis

Dan doesn’t get mad if he misses a shot or double-faults. With the same mess-up, Hayden has thrown his racket and cursed himself. I fall somewhere in between. I like to blurt out, “Bastard,” in a quiet, English accent when I miss a shot. I did note when playing last night that my blurting out, “Bastard!” is ironic, given that I am playing against my own son.

Still, “Bastard!” Hayden really does have a nice little drop shot that he inherited from his dad. And what do I have? I have tenacity. The more I play, the better I get. Dan is really good overall. I think he’s taking a class in Zen Tennis. He has the mind game and the real game down. He’s unflappable, consistent.

There is something totally satisfying about the Thwack of hitting a ball. Something very healing about whacking at a ball flying through space. The sound, the feel, the shudder. I am not great at golf or softball, other thwacking-type sports. I just like being outdoors. And as I’ve mentioned on this blog, I love the bonding of playing sports, doing yoga, or running with friends. Only the camaraderie of Happy Hour comes close.

A few of my work friends and I occasionally find a cheap place for Happy Hour beers on payday. I like that part of work — the socializing part after work. (Okay, I also like the socializing part AT work.) But working out with friends is really, really fun.

You learn a lot about people playing against (or with) them in sports. The biggest surprise? How good the IT people are at tennis — Fred and Cynthia, for example — are really athletic. And you don’t always equate computer nerd with jock.

Becoming a grown-up teaches you that people are not simply the high school labels we might impose upon them. People are complex. It shows through in their game.

September 2, 2009

“Mom, you’re just too good for me.”

I swear to God my son just said that to me on the tennis court. I swear to God. This is the happiest day of my life. The best thing anyone has ever said to me.

Okay, okay, I’m a little competitive. I take a lot of (too much?) joy in beating people at tennis. I know I should be a bigger person. I should hit the ball gently to a 12-year old. I should hold back. But, God help me, I love to win.

The game was kind of crazy because we played Australian – or is it Canadian – doubles. The two of us against Chris, but Chris’s adding was getting a little funky. It was deuce and he’d say it was 15-30 – that kind of thing. He wanted to sit out. He dozed off on the bench, watching us play. Well, he wasn’t watching. He was dozing.

Hayden and I kept playing. The game was 3 to 0 in my favor. And he said that ill-fated line. “Mom, you’re just too good for me.” Oh God. I can’t tell you how good that felt. I asked him if he minded if we put that on my gravestone. I felt the endorphin rush.

Then he came back. It was 3 to 3. And it was game, set, match point; we were playing to 4 games.

Hayden served. It was deuce, add in, deuce, add out.  It was deuce, add out, then he double-faulted. I hate when anyone double faults, but in this case, I took the victory. It tasted sweet. I’m just too good.