Sunday is June 16th, Father’s Day. This is will be my third Father’s Day in which I no longer have a father. I did have a father. His name was Peter and he was kind of a dick most of the time, but he was still my father. He passed away on New Years’ Eve 2010. On a regular day I really don’t think about him too much. I might come across a picture of him smiling and think fondly of him, only to remember he had a choice to quit drinking and to stay with me, my mother and sister. My mom is my rock, my father was the moss that grew on the north side of the tree while I was perpetually to the south.
Days like Sunday always seem to make the memory of him stronger though. It emphasizes that he is no longer here and that the dynamic of my family will never again be whole. I do miss him. Especially on days like two years ago when my girlfriend of three years and I decided we no longer were “in love”.
I was actually still very much in love with her. I may have even loved her then more than I did at any other point in the relationship. She had checked out though, never spent time with me anymore, wouldn’t text me back ever, and crashed on her “friends” (her friends were all men) couches many nights without telling me she wasn’t coming home. (I had heard that once before in a relationship and that chick was definitely cheating on me) So I asked her to take a walk one day and I just put it out there. “Maybe it’s time we broke up and started seeing other people”. I had no “other people” to start seeing but I had a feeling she did. She played dumb and agreed without mentioning that there was someone else. After she moved out of my house I saw on Facebook (promptly deleted my profile after this) two weeks later that she was in a relationship with a guy who had the same name as me, probably was fatter than me by 20 pounds, had long hair (which I had cut at her request), and was one of her “friends”. I was destroyed. Suddenly the hole that was created by losing my father had turned into a ravine after losing her. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, and my brain just did not work.
During this period of my life I was working at a golf course in Woodbridge, VA. I loved working at a golf course because I had been around this game my whole life. Not by my intention though. My dad fucking loved golf. He loved it so much that when I was three years old he took a pair of his old irons and cut them down to size and gripped them for me. He said when he put the club in my hand I just knew what to do with it. He said I was a natural. He would later tell random old men on first tee’s how he thought I swung just like Ben Hogan. I hated my father for this at the time. He was one of the worst people to play golf with; me being a child. I would get down on myself for duffing a shot or just not pay attention to what I was doing (I was only child FYI) and he would snap at me and tell me to stop being a baby or yell at me to get in the fucking cart and stop holding up the group. It got the point where I no longer wanted to play with him and when I was old enough to tell him no, I did…I regret that decision to this day. I was a natural. I could out drive 20 and 30 year old men when I was 12. But I hated my father so much that I turned my back on something that I loved…golf…and him subsequently even though I didn’t know it at the time.
But back to that day 2 years ago…I woke up on a Tuesday morning in June. My friend and I would always play for money with the members. These guys were serious about their golf so there were no mulligan’s, no strokes went uncounted. They were also a lively bunch of retired men, one guy even had his own sayings that we would write down and laugh at later. Here’s one I specifically remember – “That ass must be made of jam, cause jelly don’t shake like that”.
I don’t think I said two words before we tee’d off and didn’t say many more afterward. I was numb inside. I was just not sure how to wrap my mind around being alone, plus like I said I had a grand canyon sized hole inside after losing my dad and then my significant other of the past 1,095 days within a 6 month period. Not a single thought about golf had passed through my head since I arrived at the course. I didn’t even realize it while I was playing (I knew I wasn’t sucking) but at the end of the round I added up my score, I shot a 76. Now, for a pro that is nothing on a par 70 course. But for me? I had never broken 80 before in my life. I was ecstatic. It was the most uplifting thing that I could have done to get some much needed self worth at that moment. I even ended up breaking 80 two more times in the next month.
You know what brought me right back down to Earth? The fact that I could not share this and other moments like it with my father…I do not doubt that he would have been pissed – he never broke 80 but does have a hole in one to his name – but I also do not doubt that that would have been one of the proudest moments of his life. To see his son that he pushed into the sport he loved so deeply finally appreciating it as much as he did and performing admirably at it as well. I’ll never get to see that smile on my dad’s face and I am left with the unflattering images of his slow and calculated demise from Cirrhosis of the liver.
I can only hope that one day I become a man of some sort of influence so I can hold an annual Father’s Day tournament in his honor. I would even offer free entry for anyone who has lost their father and encourage father/son pairings. If you have both of your parents still I can only give you one piece of advice. Don’t hold grudges against them while they’re alive, the memories don’t talk back.