For Gracie’s birthday, my mom gave Gracie her first real set of golf clubs. She has given golf clubs to each of the “baby grands,” as she calls them, when they were old enough. We all play golf in my family, and have for years. But since my dad’s passing, golf has taken on an even more special meaning for all of us because it makes us feel closer to him.
My dad was an incredible golfer. Growing up, I thought all people were as good at golf as my dad was, and I was really hesitant to ever play with anyone other than him because I knew I’d never keep up with anyone. I got older, though, I realized that my dad was exceptional, not the norm. Most people play like me. Good days, bad days, good shots, more bad shots. But my dad was truly gifted. In his prime, I think he could have played for the Tour.
He taught my sister and I to play when we were in elementary school. When we were younger, my sister didn’t really have much interest in golf. So, usually, it was just me and my dad. Secretly, I loved golf mostly because I loved that time with him. He made sure that both my sister and I could play, though, because he said he knew how much business was done out on a golf course and he never wanted us to miss out on something because we didn’t know how to play. Looking back, this has been one of the greatest gifts he has ever given me. I don’t play as much as I used to anymore, but I’m always proud of the fact that I can golf (no matter how badly…) because my dad taught me.
The night that my dad died, he was coming home from a day on the golf course. He had been out playing golf all day with his buddies, and over those first few months after his passing – and even still today – the fact that he died after spending a day doing what he loved best brought me great comfort. He played golf until the day that he died. I know many golfers who would give anything to be able to say that.
Today, my mom makes sure to take both Bean, Gracie, and Tillman (and will continue with sweet Faith when she is old enough) out to the golf course when they come visit her. She takes them to the driving range and practice putting greens with her, and lets them just whack those golf balls all over the place. And while it is cute and it makes the old golfers walking around the clubhouse smile, I know that it is much more than simply a fun thing to do. It’s a way to bring my dad into their lives. And I love my mom for that.
Seeing Gracie swinging her golf clubs this week in our front yard has been tough for me. Seeing my kids play golf at all is difficult to watch. Though, I want them to play more than anything because I know how happy and proud my dad would be (and is, I’m sure), it is very hard for me to watch because it makes me miss him so badly.
Saturday night, while we were out to dinner with Chris’s mom and her boyfriend, Charles, Gracie randomly, out of nowhere, leans over and whispers to me, “Mom, Grandmomma is Daddy’s mom, right?”
“That’s right,” I said.
“And Nana is your mom,” she confirmed.
“Yep,” I said.
“Who is your dad?” This is not an uncommon question. The kids ask me often about Granddad, and they are forever trying to understand how our family is all related.
“Granddad was my dad. Remember?” I said.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. And then she stopped wiggly around in that four-year-old way, calmly looked me straight in the eyes, and said clear as a bell, “I think he misses you.”
Just like that. Completely unprompted. Without us talking about my dad recently. She just opens her mouth and my dad speaks. This isn’t the first time she has done this, either. But when it happens, it is always just what I need to hear from my dad just when I need to hear it.
Glory to God, who speaks to me through my children in the most profound ways.