Making an ordinary day simply sparkle


I was working at my computer early one morning recently when the phone rang.

When I picked it up, I could hear enough yelling and laughter coming from the other end that I thought for sure I’d been blessed with a prank call.

“Judie – Judie, can ya hear me? It’s Sean!”

Sean Casey, Cincinnati Reds’ first baseman, surprises us with a phone call whenever the mood strikes him. He knows how to make an ordinary day simply sparkle.

“Sean, are you calling me from the locker room?” I asked.

He laughed, and said, “No, but it’s just about as bad as that – I’m calling you from the team bus, and we’re rolling into – hey, guys, where are we headed?” Sean hollered.

“Well, it’s the last day of spring training and we’re in Florida, heading for one last game before season starts.”

A good checkup. Sean was calling, as always, to check on my kids.

Cort has become like the little brother he never had, and Caroline holds a special place in his heart, since she is the one who brought us all together.

Sean was a minor league baseball player for the Akron Aeros when he visited Akron Children’s Hospital where she was hospitalized.

When she was too sick to visit with him, he came back again the next day, and the next, until she was feeling enough better to talk to him.

He arranged for us to attend one of his games, in front row seats at Akron Aeros stadium just across the street from the hospital.

Ironically, the night we attended was the first night Sean ended up playing at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field as a major leaguer.

Special friend. When I sent a note for Sean to the Cleveland Indians’ front office, thanking him and congratulating him, I never dreamed I would hear back from him. We did. We still do.

He has become an incredibly special friend to us, having invited us to his wedding a few years back to adorable Mandi Kanka of South Euclid.

Their Christmas cards and pictures, the birth announcement when their first son arrived, and now their newborn second son, are all special keepsakes to us.

He has called with great news and he has called, sounding slightly homesick, out on the road from many different spots on the map.

When he was single and a little lonely, we helped him celebrate his July birthday in his Cincinnati apartment after a long, rainy game.

That night, our gift to him was a PlayStation video baseball game that had him as one of the featured players. Watching him play that game with Cort was such a thrill.

“Oh, my gosh! That’s me!” he said, sounding every bit like a joyful kid.

Keepsakes. He sent an incredible box of keepsakes for our kids when he played in his first all-star game at Fenway Park, he has given them each a signed bat, baseballs, jerseys.

He has sought computer advice from Cort, they have shared music and video game pointers, he has asked a favor of us in adopting his cat, Spaz, who was not too fond of babies.

We met Sean and Mandi in Columbus for a nice meal one night to adopt this jealous-minded tiger cat, just a couple of weeks before their first baby, Andrew, arrived in the world.

When Cort ended up in New Jersey, diagnosed with Lyme Disease and awaiting the placement of his PICC line for daily I.V. treatment, Sean called us there.

“Hang in there, buddy,” were his words of encouragement.

When I got on the phone, he said, “You tell me that you think a lot of us, Judie, but I’m telling you, when we say our prayers at night, we thank the Good Lord for putting you in our lives. You guys are really special to us.”

No big surprise. So, it came as no big surprise later that night when Sean called back again, even though I had just talked to him that morning.

He wanted to talk to Cort, who had been sleeping when he called in the early morning. They talked baseball, the upcoming season, the excitement of the pending birth of Sean and Mandi’s second son.

What did surprise me, though, was that Sean wanted to talk to me again after he finished talking to Cort.

“Uh, Judie, I figure I can ask you this, cause you know all about this kind of stuff. How do I give a cat a pill?”

It was a job that Mandi usually helps with, but she and Andrew had traveled to Cincinnati ahead of Sean and their docile cat, Callie.

I’ll bet there aren’t too many people who are asked for such advice. I count myself pretty important, giving critical pointers to a major league baseball player!


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.