Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Golf and Grandpa

Here's a personal memory of my wise golfing grandpa Williams.

Growing up, my grandfather seemed quiet. When I was 5 years old, my memories don't include anything spectacular of him-- just the usual grandpa stuff: Getting up early and reading the Tribune and some Mechanic's Local paper by his perculator, taking Sunday drives into the country (which was just about anything west of Berkely), and ignoring grandma. When I was 13, his neighborhood in Pine Lawn was quickly becoming a ghetto so my grandparents moved West near the St. Peters Golf course. I thought his new house was pretty neat, but we were no longer allowed to throw Lawn Jarts (a.k.a. death darts), and our old friend Joe C. was no longer close enough to bring silver dollars to my sister and I when he'd visit us at the old house. It's odd that I knew Old Joe for all my life, but I can't remember his last name... It was something polish with -ski on the end. Cozowski? Hmm, just "old Joe C."

At the new house, my grandpa took up golfing. Every day he'd be out from sun-up to sun-down. Up at dawn, cup O' perculated java, scan the Globe Democrat, and off to the course. Grandma made breakfast on weekends when my sister and I would stay. You know, the breakfasts grandmas always make: Fried eggs anyway she felt like making them, two loafs of toast, sausage patties, links, bacon and hash browns with a bowl of flavorless oatmeal on the side. Grandma always had that thick milk with cream that floated at the top and gave us mustaches. I could choke down milk, but we all knew to pass the oatmeal...

One weekend when I was 16, I decided to get up early with Grandpa and share some coffee. This must contribute to my current morning coffee crave... my way to keep in touch with my memories of grandpa Williams. After dumping 3-seconds-worth of real sugar from the glass sugar jar (like the ones you see in Waffle House), and half a cup of grandma's milk in my coffee, I generated the perfect mocha sugar latte. I asked grandpa why he played golf everyday since he retired and he smiled, pulled me to his garage, and quickly pieced together an interesting combo of sticks.

He introduced me to all the retired guys and told them it was time for me to learn why men play golf. He handed me a cigar, a handfull of tees, and told me to keep two balls in my pocket... "just in case." He lit his cigar, looked down the fairway, and teed up his first ball. He took time to notice the color of the leaves and the dew on the grass. He had kind of a smirk on his face when he pointed out the ducklings on the pond and he warned me about the "damn squirrel" by the dogleg ahead that steals golf balls before you get to it. He butted his driver up against the ball, adjusted his arms to a comfortable angle and then I noticed his right thumb gently rubbed the top of his grip as if the leather was velvet. He stared at the ball with an intensity I'd never seen before without looking up taught me how to play really good golf: "Michael... your grandmother and I have been married for over 25 years. Every single damn day, I've had to listen to her bitch about almost everything. She nags, and nags, and nags and I can't hardly stand it. I come out here every morning and put this little white ball on the tee. I find my grip, bring back the club... and I smash that ball as hard and as far as I can!" As the ball floated about 5 feet above the fairway and disappeared around the bend he looked at me and said, "It's a great feeling and it's kept your grandmother and I together."

I learned that golf is not about score, it's about keeping sanity and finding the ball-stealing squirrel. I guess one out of two isn't bad...


Blogger Dave Morris said...

"...taught me how to play really good golf..."

Hmmm. May I suggest that perhaps he TOLD you how to play really good golf?

I've seen you golf. You've seen me golf. Let's not bullshit each other. Hahahaha!

Great story Mike. Made me remember my grandpa too. He TOLD me how to make really good wood furniture.

9:24 AM  

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