I was always a Daddy’s Girl; some of my earliest childhood memories revolve around me just hanging out with my father in while he tended whatever was on his list of chores: planting tomatoes in the garden, working in the yard, a trip to Western Auto to pick up spark plugs or oil, the TV repair shop to test blown out tubes, or over to his mother’s house to handle a household repair for her.
It’s easy to discount these kinds of memories of our parents; the simple shadowing of our parents going about the business of life.
Those gentle memories of those everyday tasks of witness and shadow curl into the recollections of the admirable characteristics of our parents melding into the tiny glimpses we receive of his passions.
My father had a genuine love of the land; he had rich earth pulsing through his veins after a childhood of working on his family’s farm.
Though he didn’t have a desire to tend a farm as an adult, he couldn’t shake his yearning to coax bounty from the earth. His grass was lustrous and thick, the hedges dense, and the roses fragrant and bountiful in their blossoms. The years we planted a vegetable garden meant summers full of okra, cucumbers, radishes and tomatoes.
To this day, he monitors the amount of rain thanks to a rain gauge on the backyard fence.
He was a hard worker and took pride in a job well done. He worked for the same company from the late 60’s until retirement (and still fills in when folks go on vacation). He religiously painted the interior of the house, was a skilled woodworker, and replaced out-of-date wallpaper and flooring.
I see those admirable characteristics – a love and respect for the cycle of nature along and hard work – as traits I yearned to emulate.
When it came to passion, though, my father couldn’t get enough of sports: football, baseball, and, of course, golf. Like his admirable characteristics I wanted to duplicate, I hungered to become an athlete so that I could more firmly fit into my father’s world.
No matter how hard I tried, I didn’t have a shred of athletic prowess or any hint of the hand-eye coordination.
Softball, volleyball, tennis and basketball were all frustrating and painful endeavors. But I held out hope that one day, I could finally play the one thing he was most passionate about playing: golf.
His golf clubs accompanied him on his bi-monthly overnight trips to Waco, where he snuck in opportunities to play once (or twice) with customers. When we had a country club membership, he played golf early on Saturday mornings with his friends.
During the summers when vacation days were more numerous than our budget to go on a trip, my father would take a few days (or a week) to deal with Big Chores, like painting the house.
Built into that time was a time to tee-off during the week and I got to go with him.
He would choose a midweek morning when the Club wasn’t too terribly busy. We’d head out early in the mornings while my sister and mother slept in, which ensured two things: that our time on the course wasn’t in the heat of the day and my mother wouldn’t complain about him being on the course instead of home.
We made time to stop at the Donut shop for a morning snack: warm doughnuts with chocolate icing for me and an apple fritter for him.
Then, we’d arrive at the club. The pro-shop was a delightful place to linger: sodas and snacks within reach, brightly colored clothes, and an array of drivers, balls, tees, and other golfing paraphernalia.
Back in those days, though some women played, golf was a man’s world and it fascinated me. The click-crunch of the men walking along the concrete in their spiked shoes and the sounds their deep-throated laughs as they shared jokes with their friends.
The moment we were out of sight of the club house, two things could occur: I got to drive the cart, a heady activity for a pre-teen. And if no one else was around, I got to take a good whack at the ball with my father’s highly polished wooden drivers. We’d get sodas and hot dogs from the Cart Girl to tide us over, then make our way back to the clubhouse for a real lunch of char-grilled burgers, piping hot french fries, and sweet iced tea.
Best of all, I saw the golf course through my father’s eyes instead of having the view colored by my mother’s complaints of the time he spent on the course. Not only could my father relish moving the ball down the fairway, he could lavish his senses in the lush beauty of the course.
The golf course was a lovingly tended peaceful respite from the stresses of the outside world.
The country club membership was abandoned in the eighties and along with it my opportunities to go out on the course with my father. It was 2008 before I invested in myself and Golf: beautiful clubs (none of which were wooden), special golfing shoes (no longer sporting metal spikes), and lessons to wrap my mind around the skills I never could quite master as a child.
Now, each time I step onto the fairway or drive a cart from one hole to the next, I breathe in the beauty of the course and realize my childhood dream of sharing my father’s passion for golf has finally come true.
About the Author – Debra Smouse
My truth? In order to live life the way you were meant to, you must fall in love with the day-to-day activity of living.
I spend my days writing and working with people who want to change the world, beginning with themselves.
A life coach and writer, me and my Gypsy Soul have stopped their constant roaming and have settled down in Dayton, OH where I share life’s adventures with the Man of My Dreams.
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