January 10, 2009 White House Retreat
Dear Mom and Dad,
I am sitting in my room at White House Retreat on this cold, windy and cloudy day. I have been thinking about both of you since my arrival Thursday night.
The purpose of this letter is to tell you that I love you. We don’t say “I love you” very often or ever in the Shasserre family even though our love is implied through our actions. But, I do love you. And, I want you to hear those words and I want you to feel my embrace, no handshakes.
Let me share some memories. One story that I treasure is when I was four or five. Mom found me lying on the floor peeking under the back door. We were living on Lotus Avenue in Wellston. Mom asked what I was doing. I replied, ‘I’m seeing if it bees’ summer times out there”.
Summer was always special. I remember whiffle ball games with Terry O’Rourke and others played in the backyard on Overland Drive, And, that led to my first little league team, the Lager Cubs, with games played at Legion Field. I remember my first hit was a triple. It would have been a homerun except I missed third base and had to go back to tag up.
I remember making a Missouri All-Star team and playing against the Illinois team at Busch Stadium one year. I got to bat once and was hit by a pitch. Our second base was located at the edge of a Major League pitching mound, so I must have been eight or nine years old.
I can remember so many summer baseball games and practices played at Legion Park, Iveland grade school, and of course ABC park.
But, do you know what I remember most? I remember Dad….you were my coach. And, Mom, you were always in the stands—watching–my one-person fan club.
Do you remember my broken nose? Ron Hunt (NY Mets) was a high school player umping our game played at Iveland field. I was playing second base, covering first because of a bunt. Jerry Wasser, our pitcher, fielded the bunt and threw the ball low to first. The ball bounced directly to my nose. Busted it in seven places. Dad took me to the hospital and then went home to sleep. But, Mom came back to spend the night at my bedside to give me pre-surgery courage.
One of my favorite ABC park stories goes back to when Dad would take me to a field in St. Ann’s to survey the grounds before ABC park was built. It was he, Mel Schaeffer, Gene Lager, Jack Clark, Bill O’Connell and a handful of other men who were responsible for the Athletic Boys and Girls Club. They volunteered their time on weekends and then, after long difficult hours at work during the week they worked to design the fields, build concrete dugouts, put up lighting poles, fencing and concession stands.
And, one of my proudest childhood memories was seeing my Dad, selected to climb the fire engine ladder to install the light bulbs on the first ABC fields to offer night time baseball.
Dad, did anyone ever thank you for volunteering so many hours of your spare time, and working so hard to help build that stadium so that we kids could play ball? I want to thank you now for all of those efforts so that Tom, Randy, Tim and I could play ball. And, Judi could enjoy her role as bat-girl for your Wrangler teams.
Mom, I want to thank you for washing my uniforms, fixing my meals, and driving me wherever I needed to go so I could play baseball. A game I still love today.
I have another childhood memory that may surprise you. I remember, the two of you, Ted and Betty Shasserre, mapped out bus route for All Souls grade school. It was the two of you who started the bus system for all the kids at All Souls. You also managed the communications process, took all of the phone calls, and handled all of the complaints.
Probably you were never adequately thanked for this generosity. After working long hours as a carpenter, Dad found time, and you with three or four kids underfoot in those days, found time to make this bus system a priority. Thank you.
As I look back on the past, from grade school to high school, from college days to my time in the Army, and from my early days as an adult until now I will always recall you were at my side. Just as you are now there for your grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s sporting events and rodeo’s, you were there for all of your children when they needed you most.
I remember summer vacations to Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and Seven Falls in Colorado. I remember the trip to Des Moines, Iowa climbing the Capital staircase to the top. And, I remember the Wisconsin Dells and Bagnell Dam trips. I won’t forget Trout fishing at Bennett Springs. I think all of your six kids have fond memories of those times. I don’t know if any of us said “thank you” so I’ll do it now, knowing that each of us loved to be with you at moments like these.
So, Mom and Dad, now that you have reached the golden years I hope that you can look at your life with a sense of satisfaction and gratitude. In your lifetime together as husband and wife you have accomplished some amazing things. You have provided food and clothing, a comfortable home, a Catholic education, and a lifetime of caring, nurturing, and teaching for your children. You have passed along your values of honesty and generosity to your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Please take some joy and satisfaction in knowing that you are great parents – your life matters. Your legacy will live beyond you. You will never be forgotten. You are loved today and will always be loved. Thanks for every good memory.
Post Script: Mom, Betty, died January 17, 2010. Dad died October 5, 2018. They never received this letter. It has remained in my handwritten journal until today.
My hope, now, is that my Shasserre siblings and all of the grandchildren and great grandchildren that bare our name will never forget to embrace each other with loving hugs and we will tell our children and grandchildren that we love them.