In past year’s, I’ve written something about my father on Father’s Day, so no need to do the same thing again for reader consumption of something easily found or re-visited with a little scrolling. I’ll just keep it to myself today and continue to thank my lucky stars for the father I lost 38 years ago, but has remained in my thoughts nearly every day since.
A few minutes ago, I came across a terrific Sports Illustrated video about a man known as Doc Mike. The short version is that Doc Mike who was a medic lost both legs at the knee during combat in Viet Nam in 1971, and years later took up the game of golf. Playing from his wheelchair on the longer shots and his stubs on the shorter shots, Mike honed his game to the point of consistently shooting in the 70’s.
Like most of us, much of the enjoyment he derived from the game came from playing with a partner who shared in making their days on the course joyful. They dreamed of one day going to Scotland and playing St. Andrews, but the dream of playing their together died when his partner succumbed to lung cancer. Before his death, he asked Doc Mike to promise to play the storied course and spread some of his ashes there.
In becoming the first person to play St. Andrews from a wheelchair, Doc Mike paused at the 14th hole and poured a container of his friend’s ashes into the notorious and ten foot deep Hell Bunker. After shedding a few tears, he went on to complete the remaining holes and post a most remarkable score of 79.
I’m not one to fill up the email inbox of friends with jokes and trivia, but for a handful of them, this seemed like the kind of story worth sharing. After adding the story to an outgoing email, I moved the cursor to my address book and began searching for the names of friends who I thought would appreciate the story, but found more grief than I could have imagined.
Time and again I came to the names of friends who have died, including five of them within the last year or so, and all of them people I admired for one reason or another. Some were older and some younger, but the average was around my age. The list included fishermen and hunters and golfers and others – but all of them were friends on some level.
On another level, they were all fathers and they are all gone on this Father’s Day.