On the Green

We climbed out of the car, dad leaning on the side as he adjusted his legs. His unsteadiness had worsened, but I didn’t want to hover.

The putting green was in name only. It had turned in late August to a field of dry stalks, bare splotches, hardly a place I’d imagined to share an afternoon with him.

I’d asked  him earlier if he would teach me to hit a golf ball, a game he played regularly before. Before the cancer. Before the strokes.

“Do you know why we’re here?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Not really.”

I tried to decide which hurt more, losing dad minute by minute or knowing eventually he’d be gone.

Fifteen years earlier, the doom and gloom doctors had given him a three-percent chance of survival. He’d made it 15 years, though not without lots of intervention, many hospital visits, and my mother–a woman who would not let him die.

“Come on, I’ll try,” I said, reaching for a 20-year old golf putter. Not that I cared about golf. It had seemed, in the moment, a way to connect to an easier time with him.

As I hit ball after ball, he’d watch and then say, “good job,” as the ball veered off to the woods or I’d miss it completely.

Twenty minutes later, his already wobbly legs began to curve outward even more. Arthritis had made a space for a basketball between his knees, and I knew he was tired.

Later, he rested in the yard, staring at familiar plantings his mother had grown years before.

“So, what did you and Susie do?” Mom asked, bringing him a cup of coffee.


“Susie,” he said, his eyes betraying him. “What did we do?”

We shared a moment, dad. We shared a moment.