October. There are so many things I enjoy during this month. The smell of Fall as it gently blows in, the brilliant reds and yellows of the changing leaves, and the anniversary of the day I married the most extraordinary woman on the planet. Unfortunately, there is also a devastating event that occurred during the month of October, and it will always overshadow my life. My Dad passed away in 2008, and it was the most horrific experience of which I have ever had to face.
Growing up, my dad never had a father who demonstrated love. Despite that, he was the most remarkable father to me and, for a while, my step brother. He was kind, loving, and I never had any doubts about his love for me. We played golf once a week. Those days will always be a part of me, and something that I can look back on and smile. Since he passed away, I’ve only journeyed out to the course maybe two or three times. I completely lost my passion for the game. I loved golf, but I believe it was the time shared between father and son that I enjoyed the most.
I wrote Tee Tim for Dad, and I just want to share it with you now.
A gentle breeze tickles my face as I stare, motionless, at the expanse of green before me. The white ball gleams in the reflection of a towering sun, each dimple highlighted with a shadow of the one beside it. The light brown tee stands tall, cupped with a gentle curve, gracefully providing the stage.
Particles of dust playfully frolic in the beams of light descending from the glorious sky, blue and cloudless. An eagle soars above, its watchful eye scanning the horizon. The swaying trees whisper their encouragement as I slowly take a deep breath. The smell of freshly cut grass envelopes me as I clear my mind of everything but this moment.
The face of my driver nestles against the Titleist in hushed expectation.
I slowly pull the club back and then forcefully swing it toward its target. Perfect contact is indicated by the solid tink as the ball rockets off its pedestal and soars toward the heavens. As if in slow motion, the cracked tee tumbles end over end in front of me. With one hand above my eyes, I follow the path of the ball, watching it drop to the fairway, rolling to a stop a couple hundred yards away.
I turn to my right and smile at Dad. He stands there, a silhouette against the brightness of the burning sun. He gives me a meaningful high five as we climb back into the golf cart. With one hand resting on my knee, Dad delightfully relives the tee shot, amazed at the distance I achieved.
I laugh, feigning a nonchalant air as if I expected to achieve such a magnificent shot all along. Not wanting to admit the possibility of dumb luck being involved in any way, I quickly change the conversation to comment on Dad’s remarkable performance the hole before. That sparks a memory of the time he fell while swinging his club and we laugh some more.
Green by green we make our way through the course, faring better on some holes than others. We play in the spirit of fun, pushing aside the intricacies of golf like focused concentration and steeled putting nerves. This time between two best friends is sacred, a priceless piece of life forever stored in the most secret places of my heart.
Dad and I play golf every Monday, it has become our tradition, but strangely, this particular day feels different. As the sun begins its slow demise from the sky to the point where the earth seems to reach up and touch the heavens, something else fades from my soul. It’s a feeling I can’t seem to shake off as we walk up to the tee box on the last hole of the day.
“Go ahead, Son. Finish it off right.”
The hand on my shoulder is an everlasting reminder that I will always have the love of my father with me wherever I go. Through the years, he has left a lasting impression on who I am now, and the person I will eventually become. His strength, integrity and gentle spirit are character traits that any son should model his life after.
Not only have we learned how to play the game of golf together, we’ve learned what it means to become friends, best friends in every sense of the word. The rolling fairways and lush greens of the golf course are similar to the trials and obstacles we face in our daily walk through life.
We’ve learned to take our best shot, persevere through the hardships of life, and continue playing until we reach the cup. On a golf course, we battle the wind, dig our way out of sand traps, and hit around trees that block our path. In life we struggle through pain, pull ourselves up from the shackles grief and despair and face challenges that stand in the way of our dreams.
I finish off the last hole and return the cart to the clubhouse. On the back there sits only one set of golf clubs. I secure the bag on my shoulder and slowly walk to my car. Like rain trailing down a weathered window pane, tears trickle down my face. I miss my Dad more than I could ever express in words, but I believe without a doubt he is with me at all times.
I know that right now, somewhere up in Heaven, there is a book, lettered in gold and trimmed in stunning designs of a realm that isn’t confined by physical strings. It contains a multitude of names penned by the wondrous hand of God, each one written with a loving care that only a Father can understand.
I can see Dad now as he puts both our names on a page, reserving yet another tee time for a father and son to share, a tee time in eternity.
In loving memory of my Dad, Frank Martin 1938-2008
Next week: Everyone Has a Story. Meet Bria
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Have a blessed day,