My Mum has many loves in life – her husband of 30 years, Dairymilk Wholenut chocolate, trips to Florida and most recently, avocados in a bag (don’t ask!). But above all else, she has an unrelenting, unwavering, unquestionable love for her Toronto Blue Jays. Impossible as it may seem, that love hit an all-time high on Wednesday.
After 3 days of up-and-down temperatures, followed by consistent spells of fever and fatigue, my Mum finally agreed to be taken to the Emergency Room. In almost auto-pilot fashion, we packed her bag, reached Toronto General Hospital and made our way through the familiar routes of triage and registration.
As we were settling into our room in Emergency, we heard the most awful noise coming from the room next door. An older man had been brought in by paramedics and was screaming in pain. He did not speak any English and the nurses were having trouble deciphering his requests between muffled cries. Shortly after, a younger gentleman passed our open door into the older man’s room. Mum and I looked at each other in disbelief:
That couldn’t be?
Was that really him?
Our suspicions were confirmed when we overheard a doctor enter our neighbour’s room introducing himself as the doctor for the Toronto Blue Jays. Edwin Encarnacion – the Jays’ first basemen and homerun-hitter extraordinaire – was less ten steps away from us. Swoon.
Star-struck and slightly dazed, my Mum’s fever was put on the back-burner and we began deliberating on a plan of attack. Mum saw this as a sign of incredible fortune and was convinced we needed to profess our love for him…or at least say hello. I wanted to err on the side of caution and not bother Edwin (clearly, we were on a first name basis now) – after all, he was looking after his father in Emergency. Nevertheless, for a solid half hour, we forgot about fevers and cancers and strategized a master plan. We thought about buying ourselves Lettieri’s infamous hot chocolates – and maybe slipping one in his room with our number on it. The cleaning lady surreptitiously left her mop and bucket in the hallway, and though I am not domesticated by any means, the thought crossed our minds to do a little cleaning in our neighbours’ room. We even flirted with the idea of walking through the door separating our two rooms and ‘accidently’ stumbling across Edwin Encarnacion – with our best looks of surprise, of course. We shamefully googled his latest stats and pick-up lines in Spanish just in case an opportunity presented itself to use them.
Alas, the nurse ordered some tests and my Mum grudgingly complied. As we made our way back, standing outside our room in fine flesh was the dashing, 29-year old Dominican heartthrob on his cell phone. Urine bottle in one hand and my hand in the other, my Mum mouthed to the first basemen “You’re Edwin Encarnacion, right?”. He acknowledged with a nod, but was clearly a bit pre-occupied. It was but a few moments later when my Mum called his name as he walked by, and he came into our room. She told him we watched every Jays game, and how much we adore him, and how we love when he comes up to bat, and how he was robbed of an All-Star Game spot, and then again, how much we love him, and then a few ‘oh my gods’, followed by prayers for his dad to get better soon. I stared. Perhaps a bit too longingly. Edwin was incredibly gracious (…and incredibly gorgeous) and said thank you a number of times before leaving the room. He acknowledged us with a wave the next time he passed by, and I wished him a good game that night when he walked past me in the hall to leave the hospital. He did in fact have two hits on Wednesday’s game against the Royals and made a fantastic diving catch at first – which we take a little bit of credit for given the stream of compliments Mum threw his way.
My Mum is still in hospital with a case of low hemoglobin and neutrophil counts, but since laying her eyes on the great Edwin Encarnacion, she has yet to have a fever. Lesson learned: the best cure for febrile neutropenia is meeting a superstar celeb!