Sunday, June 20, 2010

One Sunday in June

Marc and I headed to the first tee. Like every other day out here in California, it was picture perfect. Like every other year over the past 15, a trip across the country to golf with this very old friend was a given. It was a Sunday in June.

The starter asked us if we would mind playing with 2 gentlemen, both around our age. The course was crowded, so it would make the play seem less slow if we were a foursome. We both mumbled our assent.

We saw the cart coming towards us from the distance. While we couldn't make out faces, it was clear that the occupants were enjoying each other's company. You could hear the laughter, and see the men gesticulating in an animated fashion. Best buddies, that much was certain.

The cart, and it's occupants, drew nearer to the first tee. I was too distracted by my previous day's bad play, and the thought of another disaster, to pay them much attention. Marc was practicing his swing, trying to duplicate the rhythm from the day before.

I walked over to the tee and waited for the rest of the group. Marc wandered over moments later. The 2 gentlemen were getting out of the cart, with their backs turned towards us.

Almost in unison, they turned around and headed to meet us to begin the day's play.

My dad looked just as I remembered him before the disease took control of his body and took his life, over 3 decades before, at age 61. He had the same lines in his forehead. The toupee sat perfectly on his head. He was still lean, for a man in his late 50's, and he walked with a purpose.

Marc's dad, Mickey, had been overtaken by illness and died almost 20 years ago, at 71. Now he appeared tall and handsome. He was maybe 54 or 55, and he could turn heads.

"No questions of why or how. Let's play," my dad said. His slightly crooked smile was directed at me.

I had been waiting for this match for more than half of my lifetime.

And so it began. Marc and I memorized everything.

Every fairway, each blade of grass. Every good shot. Every bad one. Every touch of the hand. Every thought. Every second. Everything had a purpose. Everything had a place. Everything mattered.

We spoke of things big and small. Of dreams realized and some that were not. Of times past and those to come. Of how it was and how it should have been. Of memories we had and those we were never allowed. Of the pain and of the joy. Of who we had become and who we hoped to be. Of what we missed along the way and what we found. Of how we still saw them in our minds. Of the questions we still asked them. Of the moments where they still came to our rescue. Of how they still shaped our lives. Of the ache we still carried in our hearts. And most of all, of the love we still felt.

It all cascaded out. All the words, all the emotions. With each passing hole there was a wish to stop time, but a fevered desire to continue this journey. We were in its grasp and in its spell.

I only now realize that Marc and I were the ones doing all the talking. Our dads absorbed. They took to their cart between shots, and spoke quietly and happily to each other. They just gave us their presence. It was everything.

For 18 holes, we all breathed the same air, filled with the sounds and smells of life. As we headed down the last fairway, and saw the clubhouse beckoning, a sadness overwhelmed Marc and me.

When the last putt fell into the cup, we all embraced as one. My dad whispered to me, "Say hello to your mother and tell her she still looks beautiful. I miss her every day." I watched that slightly crooked smile for one last time. Then he and Mickey were gone.

The starter came over to Marc and me. He said "I'm sorry that other twosome never showed up to join you." He asked whether the round was enjoyable anyway. Marc and I just turned to one another and smiled.

Happy Father's Day, Dad and Mickey. Same time, same place next year. We'll be waiting.


Anonymous said...

I was touched and moved by your
wonderful Fathers Day article once again. Unfortunately so many of us share the same grief and sense of loss of someone so influntial and bigger than life that was snapped out of our lives way to soon. Time does heal but we are now closing in on the same age of the gentlemen
in the foursome. What we can do now is arrange the next round of golf,tennis,fishing or just visiting over the weekend. Give me a call. Let's play some doubles but my dad and I can't play on the same team. Thanks again for the Fathers Day present.

Happy Fathers Day,

Jeff C

Nancy Leeds said...

"If you build it, he will come".