I had posted a request on behalf of my wife a couple of weeks ago, concerning her mother and a wish to try and give her one more special memory before she passed away. If you wouldn't mind, i am going to share this wish and this story with you.
On July 11th, we received a phone call late at night letting us know about Bertie (my wifes mother) being taken to the hospital. Bertie had been battling lung cancer and after several rounds of chemo was told early on this year that her tumour had shrunk 25% and things looked hopeful. Well, after several tests and several hours in the ER, we were rather casually informed "that the tumour in her brain was bleeding." To wit we replied, "What tumour in her brain?" For some reason her cancer had spread and spread fast and we were told that they was nothing they could do. So after a couple of days and much angst she was sent home.
Now Bertie has been a dedicated A's fan since the beginning, her 5 children are A's fans and in turn they have co-opted others, myself being one. So my wife wanted to try and do one more thing for her mother with her beloved A's. No, try is the wrong word, she was determined to do SOMETHING. She didnt know what, just that she had to try. I will admit here to being somewhat skeptical that anyone would care enough to help or really be in the position to do something, i mean just where do you start? The goal was to take her to one last game if possible, if not then maybe some kind of letter or photo from the A's thanking her for being an A's fan all these years.
After some prodding from my wife, i posted a request for help on where to start here after we had tried to call the A's ourselves and getting nowhere. My wife also posted something on facebook and sent some emails out to old friends. We then got caught up with the family as Bertie got worse and worse quite quickly and needed more and more people to care for her. My wife and two of her siblings moved in at that point and there just didnt seem like we would even have the time anymore to follow through, or that maybe Bertie wouldnt have the time even if we could.
A few days after we had put out help requests and had some responses from people willing to do whatever they could, (season ticket holders, a radio intern,) we received a phone call from a most unexpected place. The lady on the phone introduced herself as Detra from the Oakland Athletics, that she had heard about the situation and was calling to see what was going on and what she might be able to do to. My wife was here at the time and she was able to have a conversation with Detra and explained about taking her to a game but it was now too late and she could no longer make it. Detra then suggested that maybe she could do something else. That if we could tell her what player, she could take a ball and try to have it autographed to Bertie when the A's were back in town to face the Royals on Monday. This was still Wednesday last week. My wife looked at me for help and all i could think was Kurt. I remember having conversations with Bertie about Kurt when he first took over from Kendall and she was enthralled with him. My wife then gave Detra her mothers address as Detra even promised to ship it right to her door so that she would know exactly where it came from. At the end of the call my wife hung up and she was so thrilled!! Me? Well I'm the skeptic and i was still thinking no way, that is never going to happen, they must get thousands of requests like that. We didnt even know who this Detra was, never mind how was she getting the ball signed.
On Sunday, Bertie took a turn for the worse and we were told it wouldnt be much longer. She was on so much pain medication by then that she was only with us for short periods at a time as she would drift and sleep a lot. She stayed with us Monday, when the A's were back in town and was still with us Tuesday. When i went over to visit Tuesday evening, i was able to sit with her and call the game against the Royals for her. She stayed with me until we tied the game in the 4th before she drifted off with a smile on her face. Its hard to describe how something that brings pain can bring joy and vice versa.
Wednesday morning arrived and Bertie was still with us, still determined to be around. Wednesday morning also brought a small package addressed to Bertie. My wife called me and said you HAVE to get over here. I'm like Why? She says you'll never guess what just came for mum! Detra was every bit as good as her word and then some. My mother in law became the proud receipient of a baseball. Not just any baseball. One just for her. Unbelievably, there was a message handwritten on the ball. "To Bertie Foster. Thanks for being a longtime A's fan." It was signed Kurt Suzuki. Emotions were running quite high in that little room for a while.
I am amazed that a large professional organisation still cares about the fans as individuals. Its such a small insignificant gesture, yet, it can mean the world to so many people. I couldnt believe that an official with the A's (turns out Detra is the Director of Community Relations) and a star player would spend the time to brighten up the last few days of a fan they had never met. My wife and I are so grateful for Detra's amazing help, to Kurt for honoring the request and to everyone that helped us and got Detra to call. I've also never been happier to be an A's fan or more proud of the organisation.
Bertie passed away yesterday. Peacefully and surrounded by people that loved her. She will be missed and she will be remembered. I'm glad that my wife was able to give her mother one last special moment of joy and I am sure that there will be many treasured memories from her last few days with us. For me, mine will always be intertwined with the one passion we always shared. The Oakland Athletics.