WESTMONT, Ill. -- Should the Cubs do the unthinkable and win the World Series this October, Helen Keiling already knows she won't see it. And she probably won't hear it, either.
That's because Keiling suffers from macular degeneration, an eye disease that, day by day, over the course of the past five years, has gradually taken her sight. Her hearing, too, is now almost entirely gone, yet another byproduct, doctors tell her, of old age.
"My health, well, it's more or less what you'd expect from someone my age," Keiling says. "I need an interpreter to get close to my ear and tell me what someone says. And everything I see is pretty much a blur. But I make do."
Especially when it comes to following her favorite baseball team. Each morning, she sits at the kitchen table, eats a bowl of cereal and listens intently as her daughter Leslie leans in and screams to her the previous night's game story from the Chicago Tribune. When the Cubs play during the day, Leslie leaves a radio on in the house and provides Mom with constant updates. "I filter through the good stuff, especially," Leslie says. "Underplay the bad, overplay the good. That's how we do it."
For Leslie, who works as a traffic reporter for WGN Radio, the station that carries the Cubs, it's a cruel twist. She grew up always knowing where she could find her mom in the afternoon -- in front of the television watching her team. Now her mom is unable to watch one of the most memorable seasons of her lifetime. "It sucks," Leslie says. "The powers that be keep ripping all these things away from her. Here the Cubs have never been in a better position to reach the World Series, and she's never been in a worse position to watch it."
But Helen doesn't look at it that way. The woman who was given only six months to live after a bout with congestive heart failure nine years ago feels as though she's playing with house money. Following the Cubs -- even vicariously through her daughter -- is something she sees as a gift. In her mind, every day at Wrigley is sunny. Every play at home is a close one. "Leslie will tell me something that happened, and I can see it," Helen says. "I can see the park, the bases, the players. And those fans -- oh, the fans. I can see that whole picture in my mind."
Should the Cubs reach the playoffs, there are plans to put Mom in front of the big-screen television and have Leslie and the rest of the family provide play-by-play. In the meantime, Helen will be getting updates from her daughter and asking questions along the way. Just last week, she was pestering her daughter about the team's losing streak.
Says Leslie: "'Is there a problem? Did somebody get hurt? What's wrong? Is everything OK?' They are like her little babies. And I just tell her, 'No, Mom. Don't worry. Lou has it completely in hand. They're just regrouping for the postseason.'"
Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.