This weekend we had our annual (sort of) family golf tournament. I won’t bore you with the history of this tournament, but it is a really fun event, a nice excuse to get together and for my kids to quietly whisper “who’s that one?, “what’s her name?” and things like that. This year was great for me because the golf was on a course in my hometown and the party was going to be at my parents house. Less driving means I can relax and have a few drinks, and I’m just “home” so everything is easier. The food tastes better than it would at another house. And, I’m not just saying that cause I grew up on it, they really are great cooks (except when my Dad drops the just finished full meal on the floor or the ground, which he has done more than once).
It also was special because I got to golf with my two brothers and my sisters boyfriend, who had never swung a golf club in his life. He had zero clue what he was doing, but he was out there, which speaks volumes to his character. Why on earth would he want to spend the day hanging out with us! Although, after his first shot he did say “Why can’t you just play basketball…instead of golf”. I don’t really get the chance to play golf with my brothers that often either, maybe once a year or so. But, we pick up just like we were fighting over a video game 20 years earlier. You can tell right away who will be the “1” in the 2 on 1 battle of insults. And you can count on my brother Doug to question whatever I say my score was on every hole. On this round I’d have to prove to him that I got a bogey on the first hole by walking him thru each shot. He agreed, but I’m sure as he walked back to his cart he was shaking his head in disbelief.
After the golf is over, for many years, we would wait to hear the announcement of the scores and the winners of the “jackets”. You would win a green jacket if you had the lowest score, but mostly everyone listened to see who would win the ugly plaid jacket that used to be an actual jacket my grandfather would wear in public. See, the best part of the day was seeing which of us was the worst on that particular day. I remember a few times when I first starting playing I was very scared I would win it, but thankfully some other person would be just a little worse than me. As my brother would say though “he probably kept an accurate score, unlike you”.
Over the last few years, we have had less and less golfers, we moved the tournament to a 9 hole golf event and a small little get together. Not all of the family is there, I mean, my Dad has 9 brothers and sisters, and with his cousins being invited it could be a very large event. But, people are living their own lives, vacations, weddings, and other events are sure to get in the way of attending a family reunion. Plus, we do see my Uncles and Aunts a few times a year anyway, with more weddings and babies and all the events those entail.
I knew this year would be good because my Dad’s cousin Chris was going to be coming. He lived in California for many years, now Arizona so they don’t get to see each other that often but when they do it is always the hardest I see my Dad ever laugh. See, they grew up with each other, spending summers in Scituate, Ma. They got into a ton of trouble together but they have the goods on each other. When one of them tells a story and conveniently leaves out an embarrassing part of a story the other one is there to jump in help color in the story with details that had never been told.
After most had gone home we sat on the back deck with a few remaining people and had a few beers and glasses of wine and just listen to my Dad and his cousin trade one embarrassing story after the next. I looked over at my Mom at one point and with tears running down my face I said “I can’t breathe”, I was laughing so hard, but she couldn’t respond because she was also losing it. I know lots of these stories about my Dad, but I know more of the PG-13 versions, but hearing the R rated versions from my Dad’s cousin was just perfect.
Sure, I have almost 40 years of memories of my Dad, 40 years of developing my own opinion about that man I call my Dad, but there are 26 years or so before my Dad began working on his life’s work of being a great Dad and incredible grandfather. There are 26 years that I only have the stories for, and those stories are the ones he lets us hear. So having my Dad’s cousin Chris there just perfectly summing up the boy my Dad was absolutely made my night. I hardly said a word during these stories. Just breathed and tried to wipe the happy tears from my face before one of them started with another story. While my oldest and my god daughter sat quietly counting coins on the deck the rest of us watched this tennis match of stories going back and forth, each a little more embarrassing than the last.
Sure, I’ve seen my Dad laugh before. But these were different, these came from a different place. These stories must have been buried in his memory and my Cousin Chris was able to bring them out in front of us all. Damn was I lucky to be sitting on that deck that night.
There are a million reason why my Dad is a great man. But, hearing he was a little piece of shit as a kid was music to my ears. I guess there is hope for me yet….