|(Photo credit: jurvetson)|
First, there was my 20-year-old daughter. Well, she's 20 years old now, but she's not the one that drove me crazy. It was the teenage version of her that drove me crazy. She's grown into a fine young woman and we get along quite well now.
The second thing that drove me crazy was the play of my sports teams. Sometimes they did the stupidest things even though I'd instructed them, via yelling at them on the TV, to do otherwise. Why wouldn't they listen?
The third thing that drove me crazy was golf. Before I became disabled I was a decent athlete. I could run fast and jump high. I could hit and catch a ball, and make a basket. In high school I was a three sport athlete (football, basketball or indoor track, outdoor track). I also played a passable game of tennis and ping pong. After having a billiard table in my basement for a few years I could hold my own at pool. But golf? I could never understand that game, except one day a long time ago…
Our daughter Amy was born in May of 1989, well before my MS diagnosis. One Sunday morning that summer I took my turn with the 4:30 a.m. bottle feeding. I put Amy back in her crib at around 5:00 and prepared to return to bed myself. But I had just purchased a golf membership at the local 9-hole course, and it was a beautiful morning, so instead I quietly snuck out of the house and headed for the golf course.
When I got to the course nobody was there. The clubhouse was dark and quiet, but that was not a problem. The flags were in the holes and I had a membership, so I set out to play.
The first hole was a par four. I have no idea what I scored on it, but likely something well over par. The second hole was a 172 yard par three. I pulled out my 3 iron (this is evidence to any experienced golfer that I was a neophyte since the standard club for this length shot is more like a 5 iron, and Tiger would use an 8 iron if his wife is not chasing him with it). My tee shot went straight and rather low, as is standard for a well struck 3 iron.
The hole was cut just over a ridge in the green, so that I could not actually see the cup from the tee box. Most of the flag stick was visible, just not the last couple of inches and the cup itself. I was pleased with my shot because it appeared to have landed either close to the front of the green or on the green itself. I put my three iron back in my bag and trudged down the fairway.
As I approached the green I was a little disappointed. The ball was neither in front of the green nor on the green, so it must have run past the putting surface. There were some shrubs behind the green, and I started looking under those shrubs for my missing ball.
Then it happened. Remember, it was very early in the morning, just after sunrise, so there was still a heavy dew on the green. I stood there in disbelief as I noticed a curved track in the dew, running from the front of the green into the center of the cup, as clear as if it had been drawn by the finger of God himself. I shook my head in disbelief.
I approached the cup and dared to peer down into it. There was my ball. I had made a hole-in-one. Instinctively, I looked up and surveyed my surroundings in preparation for sharing this glorious moment with my fellow golfers. Let the congratulatory hand shaking and back slapping begin! But there was not another human being in sight. Well, that was not exactly correct. I could see the owner stirring up near the clubhouse. I left my golf bag beside the green and jogged up to where he was cleaning off the golf carts.
“Good morning, Jim.”
“Good morning, Mitch.”
“Jim, I have a problem.”
“What? Is it the mosquitoes?”
“No," I chuckled, “I just shot a hole-in-one and I have no witnesses. But I can prove it to you if you'll just come with me for a minute.”
We got in a golf cart and headed off for the second green.
For those of you who are not familiar with golf etiquette, holes-in-one really only count if they are witnessed. Otherwise any unscrupulous, attention-seeking hack could claim he hit one when nobody was watching. I was a hack, but I was of the scrupulous variety.
When we arrived at the second green I was pleased to see that the dew, and the evidence it possessed, was still intact. I told Jim my story and asked him if he believed me.
“I believe you Mitch.”
That didn't make my hole-in-one completely legitimate, but it was better than nothing. I never got another ace, witnessed or not, even though I golfed for about 15 more frustrating years.
In a sense this was the cruelest trick golf ever played on me, and it played some really cruel ones. To allow me a hole-in-one, but without a witnesses…ah, touché golf. Well played.
MS really sucks. But there are one or two silver linings. MS gets the credit for finally making me a quit a game that cost me too much money, caused me to spend too much time away from my family, and left me miserable more often than not. Unfortunately, MS took all those other sports away from me as well.
So as I mentioned above, my daughter no longer drives me crazy. Scratch that one off the list. My MS had made it impossible for me to continue golfing. Scratch that one too. What’s left?
If the Patriots and Red Sox can just win every game they play for the rest of my life…no, wait, that’s not enough…if the Patriots and Red Sox will never make even a minor mistake in any game they ever play for the rest of my life, then I’ll have nothing in this world that makes me angry.
(I’m aware of how well I just set up the Boston sports haters…have at it in the comments section, Louie).