I was invited to keynote a criminal justice conference in Miami. Logistical considerations prohibited taking Marion. She suggested, “Why don’t you take your dad?”
I said, “Do you think he could handle the trip?”
“Take a chance. He and you might both enjoy it.”
I called dad. There was no question about his excitement. He even said that he would bring some golf balls and tees just in case. We were going to Miami.
Dad had never lost his innocence and love of life. In the plane he wanted the window seat. No 6-year-old's excitement could hold a candle to his enthusiasm as he looked out the window. Our hotel room had an ocean view — he loved that view as well as the sound of the waves. At 5:45 a.m. I was awakened by heavy breathing from the direction of dad’s bed.
More from Ray Golarz:Democracy and the role of teachers
Could he be having a heart attack?
I looked in his direction. He wasn’t in his bed. He was between our beds doing push-ups.
“Hey kid, it’s going to be a great day.”
The following day, after my keynote address, we found that the hotel had an agreement with a golf course. Guests could play for free. When we arrived at the golf course we could not be more impressed. It was called the Doral. We entered the pro shop and got in line to secure a tee time — dad with his cut off Bermuda shorts, pipe between his teeth, and a plastic bag in his hand containing our golf balls and tees.
I was standing next to him donning my Chicago Cubs baseball cap above the red bandana around my neck. We were strictly class — cover of GQ. It was clear that our presence provoked a resounding hush. Finally dad said to me in his bass-baritone voice, “Hey kid, look at all the cloths for sale in here, looks like a department store.”
When we got to the counter, dad thumped his bag of golf balls and tees on the glass. You could cut the tension with a dull knife.
“Sir, how can I help you?”
Dad replied, “Just need a tee time, young fella, we're from the hotel.”
The clerk responded with obvious and observable relief. “Sir, your golf course is two miles away. Just go out our main gate and take a left.”
More in opinion:Chamber survey says a lower income tax would fund resident priorities
We found our course as he suggested. We entered the grounds slowly for there were many potholes from recent rains — definitely our kind of place. Dad was a fairly good golfer, as was I. In years past we had put up some extremely respectable scores. Today however, was just going to be fun.
Our drives dribbled off of the tee. Further, we played more frequently in the roughs then the fairways, and we lost a lot of our golf balls. When down to two, we made a new rule. Find a golf ball on the course and you can take a stroke off your score. We laughed a lot that day and enjoyed each other’s comradery. Later, in the clubhouse over some beers, we laughed some more.
Dad is gone now and I miss him so. But when I think back on that chance trip, I smile. So my friends, if ever you are presented with such an opportunity with your parent don’t pass it by. It will be a treasure no one can ever take from you. And that eventual smile on your face will belong to you and him or her alone.
Happy Mother’s Day and Father’s Day!