Hall-of-Famer and retired Chicago Cubs player Andre Dawson is missing baseball more than ever, just like the rest of us this time of year.
But his funeral home business in Miami is keeping him more than busy.
The pandemic has brought him new challenges, ones he never thought he would find himself facing. He said he is making every adjustment possible to make sure it’s done right and working harder than ever.
Dawson said scary time for his customers touched by COVID-19 and a scary time for him too.
“It’s just turning everyone’s lifestyles upside down,” he said. “We don’t know where it is, who has it – so we have to treat every case like it’s a COVID case.”
He said he is grateful he is not overwhelmed like he’s seen in other parts of the country.
“I found lately that I’ve had more sleepless nights than in the past because things are changing on a daily basis. It causes worry and concern,” he said. “I have always been one to serve, but … I never would have thought it would have been in this capacity.”
Dawson doesn’t play to the stands filled with adoration anymore. He is pleasing a party of one.
“This is a business with no cheering and no fan roar. It’s actually the complete opposite,” he said.
No more than 10 people are allowed to pay their respects in Dawson’s Paradise Memorial Chapel. And everyone wears must wear mask.
“To me that’s the best feeling, to know the family is pleased. And we’ve done a pretty good job for them,” he said.
Dawson manages to keep his sense of humor about his somber work and his notorious work ethic, even at 65. He keeps the funeral home clean and now hyper-sanitized during the pandemic. It’s his top priority.
Around the business, “The Hawk” is affectionately referred to as “The Mop Man.” And he’s ok with that.
When he’s not running the family funeral home, Dawson said he’s passing the time by working out and watching old baseball clips while the baseball season has been benched.
He’s also frequently dreaming of Chicago and doing Cameo recordings for Cubs fans. He’s taped nearly 400 of them since November.
“I’m getting a lot of birthday wishes for Cubs fans,” he said.
But his top priority is no longer the game of baseball. It’s making sure last responders like himself serve the deceased well and make their families smile during the toughest times in their lives.
“You never know what your calling is,” he said. “If this is where God placed me, maybe at this point and time in my life, I know he has my back.”
The Hawk said he is staying healthy by taking his Vitamin C, working out six days a week and taking naps daily. He is enjoying the Michael Jordan documentary, just like the rest of us.
His home, family and new life as a funeral home owner keeps him in Miami. But his heart will always remain in Chicago.