Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My grandfather introduced me to the game of golf and so much more.

I can remember my first round of golf ever. It was at a little nearby pitch-n-putt course. It was with my grandpa, Jim, who is furthest to the right above. He and my father introduced me to the game. I am very fortunate that we got to play so many times together over a 30 year period. And so very sad to have lost him Tuesday. He was 86.

He was an Air Force pilot, he ran his own business, he gave me my first stock, and he taught me how to play the game. He had an incredible feel. I can vividly remember him holding my young hands and working on my grip while we would chip heaps of balls to the laundry pole in his back yard.

One day when I was in my 20's, we were playing at his home course, Sunset. The greens there were so fast that he used to say, "On in two, off in three." He watched me putt off a few greens in our times there. We were both on the first green in two, and grandpa was warning me about the putt. The pin was in the back up against the steepest part of the green - actually a nearly impossible place for the flag. He encouraged me keep it below the hole. I was still young, and I sent my ball heading past the cup, but at just a right speed so that it passed by the hole up the slope and rolled back down into the middle of the cup. Birdie! He looked at me half with a wink, half with a wily grin. I think we started playing competitively at that moment. Our games were at a similar level for many years. There was an extended period where for several matches in a row, not only did we tie, but also at the same score.

We last played together a couple years ago. It felt like it was going to be our final round. I soaked in every minute and reveled in seeing him play - he still had a great touch. I was chuffed to hear that later he and my aunt started playing at that very same pitch-n-putt course.


I moved to Texas in 2000 - much less golf together, but more phone calls. Every phone call I would tell grandpa I loved him. He knew what to do if his B-29 was falling out of the sky; it did once. He wasn't used to having someone tell him he loved him over the phone. So after several years of getting used to saying he loved me too, one day he beat me to the punch. His exact words were, "I love you. Ha, I said it first!"

The love was always there, it was just a little easier for him when he made it playful. Just like when we played golf together. There wasn't a moment on, or off, the course that we didn't know that we loved each other.


I love you grandpa.

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