By Steve Trout
For dinner that night, instead of fried chicken and mashed potatoes, which were his favorites, Tony asked for grilled chicken and carrots.
His mom was surprised by the request, but she knew Tony was going to make a change in his lifestyle. She was happy he was the one making the decisions.
After supper Tony asked his dad to go for a walk with him. This time the whole family went, even their dog. During the walk Tony said how grateful he was that all of them came on the walk and that they were all supporting him in his fight against diabetes.
“Oh, Tony, we are so proud of you,” his mom said. “We see how hard you want to make the change and we are there with you every step of the way.”
“Without Buddy, none of this would be possible,” Tony said.
“You mean Billy, your teammate, is the key to your success?” his mom asked.
“Well, yes. Him and the ball he gave me, “Buddy,” Tony replied.
“What? A . . . ball?” his dad asked.
Tony said, “It’s sort of a secret, but Billy gave me an old ball he found in a field last year that he said had magical powers.”
“Son,” his dad said, “let’s see the ball so we can throw it out, because no ball can do that. We can’t let you think your great changes are because a baseball has magical powers.”
But Tony made his parents promise not to move Buddy and to leave him alone.
After their walk Tony went into the garage and started to jump rope. His parents looked at each other and nodded “yes.”
A week went by and Tony lost six pounds. He could feel the change. Having Buddy was the reason.
Billy and Tony were at Sonny’s 14th birthday party. Sonny got a new Minecraft game, and all his friends were playing in his basement. Billy and Tony, thought, weren’t interested in hanging out in the basement and decided to go outside and play a game wiffle ball.
From the basement window Sonny looked out and saw them playing. “Hey guys. Let’s go out and play wiffle ball with Billy and Tony,” he said.
Sonny’s mom called everyone into the kitchen to sing happy birthday and have some cake and ice cream. The chocolate cake looked amazing, and Tony wanted some with vanilla ice cream, but he stayed true to his new way of living. He told himself, “Cake and ice cream are not my friends anymore.”
Tony quietly asked Sonny’s mom for a bowl of fruit along with a small piece of chocolate cake.
“Sure, Tony, but last year you ate half the cake,” she reminded him.
“Yeah, but that was last year. I’m trying to be a better ball player this year.” Then he grabbed a handful of his belly fat and smiled.
Once he was home, Tony went up to his room, looked at Buddy, sucked in his stomach and raised his arms, as if he were in some kind of fitness competition.
“Yes, you are on the right path,” he heard.
Tony wrote in his journal that Buddy was changing his life. He felt good, and baseball was becoming fun. “There’s nothing like hitting the ball over the fence and throwing out a runner,” he wrote.
The game that Saturday was a game to remember. Tony took the warm-up pitches then stood in front of the plate and yelled out, “Let’s go, guys! Play hard!”
The pitcher smiled and yelled back at Tony, “Yeah, let’s go!”
In the first inning, Tony hit a double, beating the throw by a few feet, but almost getting tagged out because he didn’t slide. The next batter hit a blooper that fell in front of the left fielder. With Tony taking off at the crack of the bat, he scored on a perfect slide, kicking up dirt in the umpire’s face.
He beat the throw by a foot.
His teammates came running out to hug him.
Tony noticed that he was not even breathing hard. He knew and so did everyone else that the “Tank” was becoming a “Jeep.”
He knew Buddy was the reason for all of the changes he was making.
He went to his travel bag to get some sunscreen and pulled out a candy bar.
He laughed and threw the candy bar in the garbage can like he was making a slam dunk. He knew there was no going back to the sugar and fat of candy. He was now feeling the benefits of good eating, and it felt good. He felt like a leader.
The next day Tony looked out his window and saw the rain pouring down. He heard a voice, “Rain feels good. Go out and get wet.”
So he grabbed his raincoat, put on his gym shoes and went out for a long walk.
When he got back, he was drenched, but it felt so good.
It was the first time he had ever done something like this. He went to his mom and told her “That was the best walk I ever had.”
He checked his blood sugar level and for the first time since being diagnosed, it was back to normal.
He looked at Buddy and said, “Thanks. I’m going to give you back to Billy, and I hope you can help someone else who might need a little magic in his life. I will love you forever for changing my life.”
Then he thought to himself: “No more ‘Tank’ but ‘Tiger.’”