Sunday, June 19, 2016

A happy Father's Day memory

My late father didn't much like being a dad. We girls were too noisy, too unpredictable, too demanding of time and attention. We didn't appreciate the things he was interested in when we little. By the time we were older we didn't feel very connected to him, nor he to us. I remember him as forever angry, disillusioned and disappointed.

Which is why this particular Father's Day memory fills me with such warmth. There was a miniature golf course not far from my grandparents' house. It was 9 holes and, in retrospect, in terrible shape. Very rudimentary. No clown's mouth, no windmill. Yet I wanted to go every time we passed it. More often than not I would just watch it disappear as our car turned the corner.

Except a couple times every summer, my father would surprise us by pulling in. For some reason, this silly little hometown course brought out the best in him. When we played miniature golf, he was the patient, compassionate father I always wanted.

"Hit it over here," he'd explain, standing where he wanted me to aim, "and it will bounce where you want it to go." Then, when it was time for a short putt, he'd stand by the hole and frame it with his feet to help me focus.

Memories of the miniature golf course with my dad came back to me last weekend. As part of our family celebration of my niece's graduation, we went miniature golfing. It was the first time in a long, long, long time I thought to myself, "My dad would enjoy this."

Then I realized my nephew was wearing a Bernie Sanders t-shirt and knew that would make my dad shit a brick. "A Socialist!" But this is Father's Day, so let's just let my mind wander back to the 8th hole. The hardest one, because you had to maneuver straight between two (2!) water hazards. The sun is setting. The mosquitoes are coming out. But for once, my dad is not in a hurry.

"Take your time, Tiger," he'd say. And when my ball inevitably went into the drink, he'd fish it out for me and put it on the orange dot.

Sometimes we'd cheat on the 9th hole and just roll the ball in with our hands. Then my dad would run his fingers through my hair as we went to the whitewashed shack to turn in our clubs.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

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