Monday, June 19, 2017

Golf With My Father Again

"Who wants to play some golf?" my dad asked, a golf club in one hand and an aluminum bucket of golf balls in the other.  The bucket was suspended from his hand by three fingers, the tips of his fingernails yellowed from the tobacco he smoked. 

"Us!  Us!" we yelled as we brushed the sand off our dresses and buckled on our Sun-Sans.

Christi was seven, I was five and Caroline was three, and we all knew how to golf.  Amanda, the baby, had to stay home with my mom.  She would learn to golf in a couple of years when she knew how to walk.  

The golf course was a wide open grass field at the Arboretum.  My dad set up the golf tee and instructed us girls to wait behind him at safe distance.  One by one he knocked 30 golf balls out into the field.  Then at last it was our turn.

"Okay, go find them!"

We scampered out into the grass field and searched for the white golf balls like they were Easter eggs.  We brought them back to my dad and he counted them as we dropped them one by one into the bucket.  I loved the hollow plunk sound each one made.  When my dad's count reached about 25 or 26, he cheered us on to go out and find the last four.  But if we couldn't find them he was never pedantic about it.

"It's okay, we'll find them on the next round," he would say, but we rarely did.  I'm sure we came back home with fewer balls than we had had when we started out but my dad didn't care.  It was not like him to insist on perfection or completion.  He wasn't the kind of dad who demanded that things be exact or precise.  I don't remember him ever pushing us to do something the "right" way.  Instead, my dad valued fun and grace and most of all, he valued the Good Enough.

We could spend a whole afternoon in this cycle.  My dad knocked 30 balls into the field, we retrieved them, he knocked them out over and over and over again. 

He told us this was golfing and we thought it was the most fun sport in the world.  It wasn't until years later that we learned that although we were playing a game involving golf clubs and tees and golf balls, we were not golfing.

When I learned the rules of real golf it occurred to me that it didn't seem very fun at all.

This is the second Father's Day since my dad died.  I wish I could call him.  I wish I could hear him say just one more time, "Well, always good talking with you!" - which meant that he was about ready to end the conversation.  That was often followed by, "Don't let me keep you" - which meant that he was actually about to hang up.

I wish we could go golfing again.  

Most of all, I wish he were here to remind me of that Good Enough really is Good Enough.  It's okay to stop sometimes.  Golf balls are cheap.  You don't have to find all 30 of them all the time.  Sometimes it's okay to deliver about 80% and trust that things are going to be okay anyway.  

I miss you, Dad.  Happy Father's Day.

Here's to the two most important dads in my life.

My dad 

And Audrey and Grant's dad