One day last week we were on our way to the stadium to watch our Nats get another Curly W, and realized that sometimes just getting to our seats in the ballpark is half of our adventure.

We often hear Papa say I never heard of that, even if it is something we have already done or discussed many times before. Occasionally there are the random things that stick with him after his first or second experience. These are what he likes, the types of things he wants more of. He remembers when his breakfasts or potlucks are scheduled; they involve both food and friends. He knows Karen brings him cookies, which he sets next to his chair and keeps for himself.   He cannot recall that Daryl, the kids and I took him to Chase field in Phoenix last summer which is home to the Arizona Diamondback and Papa’s previous allegiance, but because we visit Nationals Stadium frequently he has no problem remembering aspects of our ball park. He now realizes that he needs a new ticket to each ballgame we attend, and he knows the way from the parking garage to where we sit. He loves eating his way through 9 innings, and because he has now been to several games with promotional give-away he believes that he will get to go home with a goodie of some sort after each game he attends. These giveaways are something he can hold on to and are much better than the temporary tattoos he finds in the bottom of his bag of Cracker Jacks. We received a Jordan Zimmermann Bobble head last month. What’s a bobble? It’s called a bobble head; it is a figure with a big head that kind of shakes, people collect them. Papa has moved from I never heard of a bobble head to wanting the entire team.

Friday night was Wilson Ramos bobble head night. Papa needed one and wanted to make sure we all walked out of the park with an obligatory bobble head also. There were 25,000 given out at the game and because we typically arrive early the likelihood we would be going home with one was pretty high.   But then life hit and we realized we were becoming the underdog in those easy odds. We had a late start, we hit Friday night DC traffic, and we had a slow walk with Papa from parking garage to the gate, and it was a beautiful Friday evening with almost 35,000 fans attending the game. Knowing we had cut it pretty close Karen and I walked ahead to try and get a couple of the sought after Ramos bobble heads.

We walked in through the centerfield gate only to find empty tables and discarded boxes. My heart sunk as I realized Papa was going to be sad if he doesn’t get his bobble! Knowing Doug and Papa were still outside I texted them and suggested they go to another gate hoping that they would have better luck. Meanwhile we were directed to the next entrance to see if they had any remaining collectables. We weaved our way through the current of fans to the left field gate, they told us to move on to the 3rd base gate. We arrived at the 3rd base gate with a line of people and a couple fans received our prize but the rest were advised to go to the home plate gate. Karen and I had one between us and figured we didn’t need any more so went to find our seats.

Doug and Papa were still outside the park looking for an entrance still carrying the collectables and did not know we had found one for him. They were headed to the right field gate and were advised there were none left and to work their way towards the home plate gate. Doug started walking toward the first base gate and Papa with his ticket in hand said I gotta pee! At that moment Papa deciding that finding a restroom was more important than Wilson Ramos, he turned around to walk up the stairs to the right field gate by himself. Doug called me and said he has already disappeared in the mass of people. Papa was gone. We decided that he was in the park already and because he has been to weekly games he hopefully knows the general vicinity of where we sit. We had faith he would hold onto his ticket and keep asking until he found his seat (and us). We were obviously concerned, but less worried than when we couldn’t find him in our own quiet neighborhood. There were after all thousands of people he could ask for assistance. This would be a good test for him before he gets ready to fly to CA next month.

Doug ended up walking around the stadium to the home plate entrance and was given two bobble heads after explaining his gate to gate adventure. As he turned around to make his way to our seats he saw Papa in front of him with a big smile and a small box containing our Nat’s catcher. Papa had stopped for his business and as he made his way around the inside corridor of the rest of the stadium he passed the home plate entrance and sought out a bobble head with his ticket. Success! Doug and Papa were reunited again and as they made their way down the aisle to our seats, Papa was beaming and proudly handed me his Wilson Ramos bobble head box to put into my bag.   I am hungry, who wants a hot dog? The quest for bobbles was over; it was time for food and baseball!

During the 3rd inning Papa got up and started talking to a couple people on the other side of the aisle. They chatted for a couple of minutes, smiled and shook hands before Papa returned to his seat. We asked him what that was about. That guy left for a while and just got back to his seat. I wanted him to know that while he was gone I was watching the bobble head he left under his seat to make sure no one took it. I would have stopped them; those bobbles are hard to come by. It is easiest for Papa to see and pay attention to what is right in front of him, and that lonely bobble head under an empty chair was standing in-between him and the game. As we were focused on a great game, Papa was bobble-sitting and we didn’t even know it.

During the 8th inning Papa’s new friend and his female companion from across the aisle stopped by on their way out of the park. He shook Papa’s hand again and said it was nice to know that someone had his back while he had stepped away. He handed Papa a Ramos box and agreed they are hard to come by, they had one and wanted Papa to have their other bobble head. What a smile! Not only did the Nats win, Papa was thrilled that he had scored an extra bobble!

We learned several lessons on this outing.

  1. Make sure Papa always uses the restroom before we leave the house.
  2. Leave earlier to get to games; you never know when you will hit DC traffic. I can’t imagine how crowded the stadium will be for the Jason Werth’s gnome promotional giveaway.
  3. Never seat Papa on the aisle; while he makes friends with his neighbors, it is much too convenient for him to purchase food from the vendors. Thank goodness he doesn’t drink beer!

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