In 1966 I married my high school sweetheart, Bobby. He was the cute neighborhood jock who had played on the same Little League team as my brother when they were both eleven. We started “going steady “ after he got a drivers license, and at eighteen, on the night of his high school graduation, Bobby signed a contract to play baseball for the New York Yankees. We married two years later, and by our fifth anniversary we were a family of four. Our daughter, Tori, was born in 1968 during Bobby’s stint in the Army... Todd was a welcome surprise the following year. While we scheduled life around our kids’ activities and Bobby’s baseball calendar for the next couple of decades, I fed my passions as well. I loved organizing “Girls Nite Out” events featuring a variety of interesting guest speakers. These informational swap-meets brought dozens of women together, exchanging ideas on health, art, community services, yoga sessions, etc... always fun experiences promoting the value of female friendships. At that same time, I partnered with ten friends to start a gourmet kitchen store in Oklahoma City... Classic Gourmet. Life was busy, full of travel and Kodak moments... we were counting our blessings and expanding our family with bonus children, once Tori and Todd each found their life mates... David and Lynne.
Fast forward to 2006... we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with family and friends in New York City. Christmas Eve arrived six weeks later, hand delivering Bobby an aggressive brain cancer diagnosis, propelling us into eighteen months of treatments and nervous uncertainty. We were tethered to MD Anderson in Houston most of 2007... Bobby continued treatments in a clinical trial, and resumed his broadcasting of Yankees games. During that year we wrote the book he had planned to pen once his baseball career ended... YANKEE FOR LIFE pretty much details our love story, though it’s disguised as a sports biography. The book launched on Bobby’s 62nd birthday, two months before he lost his brave fight on July 12, 2008. That dreaded GBM tumor was the thief we never saw coming... the roadblock to our happily ever after... and my eventual detour toward a different journey of faith.
In 2014 my heart led me to a move from Oklahoma to Dallas, Texas. I knew my five grandchildren... Sophie, Knox, Jackson, Ava & Holden... weren’t getting any younger, and neither was their Lali, that’s me. Uprooting and transplanting require skills and plenty of TLC. This is true of herbs like cilantro and dill, and especially true of widows. I was definitely happy to be near my children, but found myself uncharacteristically anxious with the thought of cultivating a crop of new friends in my “solo & uncoupled” status. I prayed I’d find acceptance in my unfamiliar surroundings, but experienced self-inflicted insecurity during the first weeks of neighboring. I could never have imagined the two angels God was about to put in my path ... enter Joy Kirsch and Nanci Masso... inviting me to the next Widows Journey meeting, setting me up for the next chapter of my life.
I’m now busier than ever, energized by my wonderful teen grandchildren and the most diverse, loving, inspiring widowed women friends. I attend Yankees Old Timers Day events each year, and carry on Bobby’s legacy, presenting the Baseball Assistance Team Murcer award to teams in both leagues. Our grandkids enjoy making these annual presentations with me, keeping Bobby Pops memory and his contribution to baseball alive. I still love writing, and have contributed to two published books of devotionals. I’m hoping to one day gift each grandchild with a book of personal stories of our life together, encouraging them to include their own artwork and remembrances. I’m continuing my “old school” hobby of compiling music and burning CDs on my laptop, and am most passionate helping organize the monthly socials for Widows Journey. I can’t imagine my life without these fabulous Wisters, and look forward to expanding our mission together.