Grandpa was a diehard White Sox fan and I bleed Cubbie blue. We always enjoyed our annual bets on the All-Star Game and World Series (the bets were for $1 and he always had the American League and I always had the National League), but I don't think we ever went to a game together. By the time I was old enough to attend a baseball game, my grandparents had already moved to Florida. We almost saw a White Sox spring training game together when I visited my grandparents during spring break my sophomore year of college, but Grandpa wasn't strong enough.
Grandpa passed away 14 years ago and I still miss him, especially as baseball season kicks off this weekend.
Suburban man on hospice care making pilgrimage with grandson
By Kimberly Pohl, Daily Herald, April 3, 2009
The results won't make a bit of difference in the standings, but Saturday's Cubs-Yankees exhibition game means the world to one Mount Prospect man.
John Cannistra, whose lung cancer has advanced to the point he needs hospice care, will be in the stands at the new Yankee Stadium with his grandson, Billy DeSario.
The Cubs fans, who left for New York Thursday, have never been to a game together.
"I think this is a beautiful thing," Cannistra, 75, said. "Hopefully, it's not our last game."
Cannistra says he can't complain. After all, doctors gave him a few months to live - six at the most - when they diagnosed him with cancer. That was nearly nine years ago.
The Chicago native lived most of his life in Niles, where he and his late wife, Gloria, had four children. He worked as a road construction foreman, retiring in 1999. Now he lives with his son, Mike, a Sox fan.
"When I hear him hollering at the TV, I just say good because I figure (the Sox are) losing," Cannistra said, laughing.
DeSario, 24, grew up two doors down from his grandpa. He said their tightknit Italian clan thrives on storytelling and food. Most of the family flew in for Cannistra's birthday in February.
"I haven't seen him that happy in a long time," DeSario said, adding it's been tough for Cannistra since his wife died last year.
Cannistra has a soft spot for the Bronx Bombers. He became a fan when his son, Johnny, lived in New York. But his allegiance remains clear.
"My Cubbies will win, no question," he said.
A lot of planning went into the trip given Cannistra's illness. Rainbow Hospice and Palliative Care in Park Ridge arranged for a partner to provide temporary care in New York. An oxygen tank was also delivered to the apartment they're staying at in New York.
Aside from some coughing and shortness of breath, Cannistra said he's feeling good. He skipped his regular coffee meeting with friends on Tuesday to save his strength.
Cannistra is confident the Cubs will break their three-and-out curse come October.
"Hopefully," he said, "me and Billy can be there when they do."
UPDATE: The Cubs lost last night 7-4. Hopefully, the result will be different today. John Cannistra and Billy DeSario deserve to see the win. Actually, every grandfather and grandson (or granddaughter) ought to be able share the experience of seeing their favorite team win live at the ballpark.
UPDATE #2: The Cubs lost again. This time, 10-1. I'm bummed they lost, but more than that, I'm sorry for Mr. Cannistra and his grandson.