He was restless. He most likely needed to rest, but, sigh, that didn't sound like fun. His wife, Nita Killebrew, thinking she'd outsmart him into choosing a nap, offered a quick shower - or, you know, we could go watch the kids play baseball.
She says: "Harmon always got the last laugh."
Because he said: "Oh, there's no decision to be made. Let's go. Watch the kids play ball."
As sick as he was, in no time at all, he'd changed into freshly pressed blue shorts with - she laughs at the memory - white shoes and white socks pulled way up high. He put on a matching blue-striped shirt and a little straw hat and his sunglasses. He was ready to go.
She says: "He looked so cute. Just vibrant and alive."
More than 21 years before, Nita's husband, Hall of Fame baseball player Harmon Killebrew, had survived three death-defying illnesses. Who knows whether he knew, this time, that he wasn't going to beat the odds, that esophageal cancer had the upper hand.
On this particular day, though, it didn't matter. He had kids and baseball on his mind.
"When you've got a mission - a heart, you know - it'll move mountains. "
This wasn't any old baseball game, either. This was on a Miracle League Field, dedicated to and designed for kids with disabilities. Harmon and Nita had committed themselves in the last several years to building them as fast as they could raise money. This one was in Arizona - but Harmon had one more dream: to build one in his hometown of Payette.
"We (once asked him), what about a legacy for you? He said, 'Let's finish building the Miracle Leagues where I lived and played.' In his honor, basically, although he didn't say that. I said, do you want us to name them after you? He said, 'The one in Payette.'"
A Miracle League baseball field has a rubberized surface suitable for wheelchairs and walkers and fragile bodies; the game is played so that each kid has a buddy to help them around the bases. All kids bat, all kids are safe on base, all kids score and both teams win the game.
"It is my goal to finish that legacy (for him)."
This particular day in 2011 was hot like Arizona can be. It didn't stop the kids, but it was not, truthfully, a good day for a sick man to be watching baseball. Maybe it's time to go home?
"He just looked at me and said, 'I'm not leaving till every kid crosses that home plate.'
" I just kept watching him and when I did, it was like, oh, Nita. That's not his game face. That's Harmon connecting with his peers. He wasn't wearing that Hall of Fame hat that day, he wasn't the big cheese. He didn't want to be. That day was different.
"We stayed. We finished the game, he shook every hand and the coaches' hand and said thank you for what you are doing."
Harmon would die just 11 days later. The day at the ballpark still resonates in Nita's memory, watching him watch the kids play.
"(I saw that for him) it was more than just another ball game, it was a game of life. A equalized opportunity for these beautiful, specially gifted kids to play a game of pure love and joy. "
Nita met Harmon in 1979, when she was an office manager and Harmon was selling insurance and estate planning. He had retired from baseball after the 1975 season. She had never heard of him and his fame, but her father had - and mentioned that he had even refereed some of Harmon's high school basketball games.
"So when I walked into his office to meet him, I stuck out my hand and looked him right in the eye like you're supposed to do. I shook his hand and said, 'My dad told me what a great basketball player you were.' Yeah.
"He hung on to my hand, looked over my shoulder to his partner and said, 'Did we already hire her?'
"It's a great story but absolutely true."
They married 10 years later, on Jan. 4, 1991, a year after the one in which Harmon defied doctors' prognoses - and gave Harmon what he called his second chance in life.
" He said, 'God has something he wants me to do and I don't know what it is. But I'm supposed to do something.'
"And I said, 'Harmon, you've done a lot of charity work through baseball. And you've always done a lot through the church - you've done a lot of stuff. He said, 'No, this is so much bigger than baseball. This is more important.'"
He found two different callings. First, he became a spokesman for hospice, at a time when such care was viewed as a death sentence instead of compassionate work. Then he was introduced to Miracle League. He and Nita partnered with Harmon's old team, the Minnesota Twins, to build fields - eventually 11 of them in Minnesota (two of them named after him) and two in Arizona.
"After he almost died in 1990, he was on a mission. He was a man with a mission, he was focused, he was clear. He did way more charity work than he did before. It was his full-time thing.
" He always said, 'My mom told us we were put here to help each other, so let's get with it.'"
Nita's role in all of this was behind the scenes. Everything just went better when she was the one negotiating contracts for her famous husband; when she was the one making phone calls, lining up logistics, paying bills. Everything went smoother when she was on hand, and Harmon depended on her.
"I liked standing back, helping him do all those great things and being his backup person. I got a little glow with the light, with the warmth. I liked that supportive role."
With her husband's death, though - and his dreams yet unfulfilled - Nita has had to leave that role behind.
Reluctant or not, now it's her seeking the limelight, her making the personal appearances, speaking to media, speaking in public and rallying support - for the Harmon Killebrew Miracle League Field in Payette. And not just an ordinary Miracle League field. It's one that she and the newly formed board of directors dream of being the flagship of all Miracle League fields nationwide.
"That was the one he asked for, so for me, that is the most important one But I would like to see even more I want them all throughout Idaho."
She does not relish being front and center, but she, too, is compelled.
"This is my heart; I love this. This is not working.
"But I have to tell you - being out in front doing media isn't easy for me. Doing sales is not easy for me; Harmon always did that. He always tried to drag me along and get me out in front.
" I was shy as a kid. It's not easy for me to do this stuff, but this Payette (field) is really important to me.
"I am fulfilling Harmon's legacy."
At his memorial service, Nita read a note from a fan:
"'Harmon is an extraordinary, beautiful, loving, compassionate human being. Who also happens to be a legendary baseball player.'
"I just want to make sure people remember that "
Know someone living "from the heart"? Idaho Statesman photojournalist Katherine Jones spotlights someone in the Treasure Valley who influences our lives not only by what they do, but how and why they do it. Do you know someone we should know? Call 377-6414 or email email@example.com.