About twenty years before my Dad passed from this life to whatever is next, I happened to be home for a weekly visit. As usual, Mom, Dad, and I started with a round of golf. I think of golf courses as very serene places; maybe a little slice of heaven. They're green and rolling with an attractive landscape, and on a nice day, have just the gentlest whispering of a breeze; not too much, not too little; just right. Both Dad and I found them quite relaxing. But Mom? Not so much. Dad always said she was born with a spring in her butt, unable to relax. She tore around the course like the IRS was chasing her. On the putting green it looked like she was playing air hockey at the arcade. |
"Relax," Dad would say, "enjoy the day."
"Nope," she retorted. "Gotta get off the green and on to the next hole. Can't hold up the foursome behind us."
"No one is behind us, Mom," I said.
"No, but there could be."
Even with her jailbreak playing style, with the advantage of the ladies tees and always hitting-down-the-middle (versus Dad and I spraying the ball), she generally beat us, which tended to annoy me.
That day, however, we were neck-and-neck coming to a long par 5. I laid up short of a creek (that guarded the green) with my second shot. I was in great shape for an easy pitch to set-up a birdie putt. Mom hit a fairway wood for her second shot, and much to my pleasure, it dropped straight down smack toward the middle of the creek, which was about twenty feet wide. Then the damndest thing happened. I watched as a turtle surfaced for breath, and Mom's ball bounced off the shell and on to the middle of the green. Was that karma or God having a little fun at my expense?
Later as we grilled steaks on their back patio, Mom went into the house to get something while Dad and I kicked back enjoying beers and the peaceful late afternoon.
"You ever think about dying?" I asked.
"No, not really," said Dad thoughtfully. "Can't say that I do."
"I do. What bothers me most is future beautiful days like this, and me not here to enjoy them. Makes me kind of sad. You never think about something like that?"
Dad took a sip of beer and looked at me. "Not at all. You see, I'm ready."
"What does that mean?"
"Whenever I'm called to go, I'm ready. Today, tomorrow, next week, whatever; it doesn't matter."
I never quite got over that statement. What did he know that I didn't? Or was it simply blind faith? Actually, I put that rather badly. Dad was thoughtful and well-read. He especially loved British and American poetry and could recite it by the hour. He was also raised in a family of strong faith (but so was I), and he was very active in his church and the freemasons. Therefore, his faith was either inborn or acquired, not blind.
So, what's wrong with me? I've been told as we age we tend to become more religious and faithful. I seem to be an anomaly. Each passing year has chewed away at the faith my family and church mentored to me as a boy.
I've become a full-fledged existentialist as defined by Cathcart and Klein: "You haven't lived until you think about death all the time." They write about a man named Thompson who upon approaching his 70th birthday decided to change his lifestyle completely so he could live longer. He ate the right things, exercised, got rid of his pot gut, and toned his muscles. He decided to celebrate by dyeing his hair and getting a new, hip style. As he crossed the street upon leaving the barbershop, a bus ran him down. Squashed him like a bug.
As he lay dying, he cried, "God, how could you do this to me?"
From above came a voice: "To tell you the truth, Thompson, I didn't recognize you."
The lesson is we can attempt to change ourselves on the outside, but we're still essentially "who we are". So maybe faith can't be acquired. It's either part of you (my Dad) or not (me).
What do you think?
Copyright by Gene Myers Author of "After Hours: Adventures of an International Businessman" web site: www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/AfterHours.html Also available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com and www.borders.com
Watch for "Songs from Lattys Grove" due August 23, 2010.
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