Nate and the Big Shakeup

It was last Thursday that the Katz Gang as we’ve known it broke up: Robbie left for Brazil.

I’d been watching Nate, wondering how he’d react to such a huge upheaval in our family dynamic. He’d been vocally mixed in the lead up to Rob’s departure. “I’m really going to miss Robbie,” he’d forlornly say at random. “I’m going to move into Robbie’s room and make it my art studio,” he’d also say with great anticipation.

When the day came to drive Robbie up to Albany airport, Nate was an eye of calm in our teary storm. Karen had been crying for months. I was prone to the occasional tearing up. We were both going to miss him for sure. At the airport, after a few hours of waiting and last-minute scrambles to cover little items Robbie missed, like his health insurance, we were ready to say goodbye. Ready, though not prepared.

I’d had a feeling Joey would lose it, and he did. Fact is, Joey and Robbie are closer than perhaps they would be had they had a “normal” older brother. Don’t get me wrong, they love Nate and do things with him, but for shared experiences and interests, the two of them are one. Joey, now left with Nate, broke down. Karen and I had a hard time letting go. We probably said our official goodbyes 4 or 5 times. Finally, when he was through security and out of view we left.

In the car, we all were pretty shaken up. I said to Nate, “This was a pretty sad day, wasn’t it?”

“Not really,” he answered, probably visualizing his impending takeover of Rob’s space. And that was last time we talked about it, until this morning.

In between bites of his chocolate chip Eggos, staring at his computer, Nate, in a low, heartfelt but not overly emotional tone, said “I miss Rob.”

“I do too Nate. We all do.”

He’s still water, that boy, but every once in a while he lets you wade into the deep end.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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