A Memoir of my Papa, Charles Benjamin "Babe" Adams - by Libby Henderson Granddaughter of Charles B. Adams
Shortly before my tenth birthday, my parents and I travelled to my grandparents home in Maryland for a visit. I knew my Papa had been ill, but I didn't know exactly how sick he was. He was just my "Papa" and I loved him for a plethora of reasons. When we arrived that summer we found him in bed, gravely ill, but still wanting to see us and joke with us. That was when I finally realized just how important a man he was - to me.
Both my grandparents were a big part of my life, even though they lived far away in Silver Springs, Maryland while I was growing up. We saw them about four times a year, either traveling there or having them visit at our house in suburban Chicago. I don't remember when I first realized The Babe (as his friends still called him) was not only my hero but a national hero; I believe it was after he passed away and my "Nana" brought out the old scrapbooks and photo albums. He had a grand sense of humor, too. My mother loved to tell the story about the first thing he told her when he got the phone call that I was born, was "I'm too young to be a grandfather!" I was his first, last, and only grandchild, born when he was 76 years old.
Always vibrant even in his 70s and 80s, I remember "Babe" rising early and taking an hour walk every day, eating Special K cereal for breakfast, skipping lunch, saying he just didn't care for the meal. My grandmother was a fabulous old-fashioned cook, and we all loved her dinners! Papa, as I called him, chased me down the street when I ran, wrestled and played catch with me, and let me climb up him as he held my hands in front of him. This was a special treat, and quite an impressive demonstration of strength for my almost-80-year old grandfather. I would end up climbing up his torso to a horizontal position with my feet on his chest and him holding me up. That is probably the first actual memory I have of him.
As a grade school student, he encouraged me to learn as much as I could, and be a "sponge." He wanted me to get involved with sports; in junior high I tried cheerleading, but ended up playing softball because he had taught me how to throw a curve ball. I still remember the day he showed me. He was quite ill at the time, battling throat cancer, and I was only 9 or 10 - but he took me out in the back yard with a baseball and taught me how to hold the ball in my hand, use my fingers correctly, wind up and throw. I'm left-handed and he, being ambidextrous, was able to show me how to throw and hit left-handed. He was patient and kind, loving and encouraging.
I was there when he died. It wasn't pretty; but with abundant faith in God, he dealt with it like the great man he was. He never complained and tried to stay active as long as he could. Even after surgeries to remove nodules in his throat and mouth due to cancer, he tried to get back out there for his morning walk. I believe he walked 2-3 miles every day when he could. He realized that a life of smoking cigars, pipes, and cigarettes was the most unhealthy thing he could have ever done, and regretted that he started it. He would talk to me about how foolish it was, and I believe his words along with having to put up with my parents cigarette smoking irritating my own throat, kept me from smoking even one cigarette, ever!
I grew up hearing the stories of Babe Adams; about his baseball career, his farming life, his family life; but always, interwoven into the stories, was the pervasive thread of his incredible character. Many players have been called the "Grand Old Man" of baseball; but I'm convinced that this moniker was created for The Original Babe, Charles "Babe" Adams. To me however, he was the "Grand Old Grandfather" whom I loved dearly.
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