This week’s (W)rite of Passage challenge is: Character. The idea is to study a person’s character and make a story surrounding them.
This was extremely hard for me to write, and I have a feeling I’m going to get in a whole world of trouble if my dad ever reads this, but here goes.
Sometimes he doesn’t recognize the old man in the mirror.
He gets up in the morning and has his breakfast – cup of coffee, bowl of cereal – then heads off to the golf course. Rain or shine.
Since he retired, this golf course has become his life. All of his friends are here. He even got a job here; two days a week, he’s the guy who stands at the first tee and tells groups of golfers when they can tee off. Sort of a traffic director, if you will. In exchange, he has no membership dues, he gets free cart rentals, and a free lunch at the clubhouse. For an old golfer, you can’t find a much sweeter deal than that.
He’s at his happiest when he’s here. He’s friendly, even outgoing. They gave him the “Sportsman of the Year” award a few years ago.
But at home, it’s a different story. He doesn’t want to do much, he just sits in his chair and watches TV. He likes to watch sports – football, golf tournaments – and the History channel. But he gets angry and frustrated a lot. He thinks that his wife of 40 years nags at him all the time. She keeps pointing out that his memory is slipping. He doesn’t want to think about that. He’s seen some of his friends from the golf course who ended up with Alzheimer’s, and it scares him. So he refuses to admit that maybe there is a problem with his memory, or that he should talk to his doctor about it. When his wife reminds him of times that he’s forgotten things (like the time he forgot where Northside Drive was, even though he’s been driving down that street since 1971), he denies that it ever happened.
He’s 73 now. His parents are gone. He was an only child. He has a couple of cousins that are still around, but they don’t see each other often. His wife and kids are all that he has left, really. His kids have all moved away. He doesn’t understand why none of them like Mississippi, he thinks it’s a great place to live. Of course, he’s lived here for at least 60 of his years on this earth.
His two youngest kids are now in North Carolina, and it’s looking like his oldest daughter might move there, too. His younger daughter has a child of her own now. His only grandbaby. She’s such a sweet little girl, he adores her and spoils her rotten. He also worries about her a lot. That’s what he does, though, he’s a worrier. He worries about her asthma, he worries about whether or not she’s eating enough, he worries about why she isn’t potty-trained yet, he worries about why she has so many tantrums. His daughter rolls her eyes and reminds him that his granddaughter is only 2 years old, but still. He worries.
His wife keeps talking about how she wants to move to North Carolina, to be closer to the kids and their granddaughter. He doesn’t want to move. He doesn’t like change. He keeps using the golf course as his excuse to stay. It might sound like a flimsy excuse to some, but not to him. That golf course is his life.
But the golf course isn’t doing so well. They’re losing members. Sometimes when he’s at work, there are no golfers to direct, so he just stands around and practices his swing. The secretary who works there mentioned to him that the place lost tens of thousands of dollars last year, and the owner is getting phone calls about unpaid bills. She said she doesn’t know how it’s going to survive another winter.
If the golf course closes, he won’t have anything to keep him here. He supposes that then, his wife will get her way and they’ll have to move. He doesn’t like to think about that.
So he’ll try to forget about it. And tomorrow, he’ll wake up, look in the mirror, and wonder who that old guy is staring back at him.
More (W)rite of Passage entries here: