More Than Just A Game: A Cubs Fan Shares His Story
Posted on November 3, 2016, 3:30 PM
It’s been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs have won a World Series Championship. Bill Waskelis, a 79-year-old lifelong Cubs fan would often tell his son, Kevin, he was sorry for making him a fan of a team that never came out on top. Still, Kevin Waskelis says his time growing up watching and talking Cubs baseball with his dad are some of his fondest memories. The two even made a pact that if and when the Cubs did make it to the World Series, Kevin would come home to watch at least one game with his dad.
In early October, well into post-season baseball, Kevin learned some unexpected news about his father’s health. Bill’s kidney cancer, for which he had been receiving ongoing treatment, had spread. He was given 30 days or less to live. Kevin immediately flew from where he was working abroad, to be at his father’s side. They would indeed watch the Cubs play in the World Series together, just not under the circumstances they had expected.
“From an early age my dad shared his passion and love for the Cubs with me,” Kevin says. From traveling to Cubs games at Wrigley Field, attending Cubs Conventions and Spring Training, the Cubs were a huge part of Kevin’s childhood. “I remember so many summers when I would watch the Cubs play and then wait for my dad to get home from work so that we could talk about it,” Kevin remembers. “It was an incredibly special bond we shared.”
Watching the Cubs win the National Championship side by side was a moment Kevin will always remember. “The entire post-season gave my dad so much strength and joy,” Kevin says. “During those games, his cancer took a backseat. We were transported back to when I was 12-years-old sitting at home next to him watching our favorite team together as a family.” It had been 71 years since the Cubs had won a National League Championship. Kevin says his typically stoic father had tears in his eyes watching the Cubs take home the pennant.
During the games, Kevin began to notice Stand Up To Cancer PSAs and signage in the ballparks. Kevin’s mom also remembers seeing the SU2C placard moment during Game 4. Seeing so many people come together and stand in honor of loved ones touched by cancer was incredibly moving. Kevin went online to learn more about the cancer research that SU2C funds. “Cancer is scary because my dad did everything right,” Kevin says. “He was the picture of health, a good man, an exceptional father, and cancer just didn’t care.” Both of Kevin’s grandparents on his dad’s side also died of cancer that progressed very quickly. “I worry about my future,” Kevin says, “It’s terrifying to think that one day I could be taken from my family by this disease if we don’t find better treatments.”
Sadly, Bill passed away just two days before the Cubs would win the World Series Championship, 108 years in the making. Kevin and his mom watched Game 6 together with Bill’s favorite Cubs t-shirt by their side. Extended family came into town to join them and watch Game 7. Loved ones from all over sent texts back and forth to one another cheering on the Cubs throughout the game. “It was like we were all in the same room together, “ says Kevin. “It was truly special.”
Truly special, is how many Americans will remember Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. At the bottom of the tenth inning, Kevin sat watching in his dad’s room in the same chair where he had always watched the games. He held his mother’s hand and clutched his father’s Cubs shirt with the other. “I’ll never forget that moment when they won, I just broke down and cried. I was elated they won and sad that my dad didn’t make it just two more days.” Kevin says. “But I know he saw it.”
For Kevin, the past few weeks with his father have meant absolutely everything to him. “These games and watching the Cubs do so well with my father have been some of the happiest moments in my life, even amidst the sadness and heartache that the loss of a loved one to cancer brings.” For so many people like Kevin and Bill, baseball is about so much more than the game itself. It’s about family coming together to share a special bond. For many Cubs fans, it has also been about the unwavering hope that one day, they would win it all.
There will be a Cubs World Series Championship program and Cubs hat next to Bill at the memorial service in a few days. “Take Me Out to The Ball Game” will be played in his honor.
You can donate in Bill’s honor here.
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