I am standing on the first tee of a beautiful golf course. The soft grey pre-dawn light mutes the colors, the ocean faintly visible in the distance. As I look down the fairway, Jake drives up behind me, alone in his cart. He stops alongside me with a smile and a “Hey, Pops.” He wears tan golf slacks and argyle socks, his grey Slazenger golf shirt and the beautiful sweater vest his grandmother knitted, against the chill of the morning air. His Kangol golf hat perches jauntily on his head.
I am delighted to see him. “Sit with me a bit,” as I beckon to a bench beside the Par-Aid ball washer. He shakes his head and replies, “I can’t stay that long”.
I lean on the cart, hands on the smooth plastic roof as we talk in the gathering brightness, the high clouds now tinged with the first pink blush of sunrise. We exchange small talk for a moment until I blurt out the questions that have haunted me every moment since his passing. He looks at me with the inscrutable Mona Lisa smile he wears in the last photo of him and me on the Pete Dye course, and says, “I can’t answer that, Dad. But your truth is as good as any.”
The sun peeks over the horizon spilling golden light onto the world. He checks his watch, “Gotta bounce”.
“Can’t you stay a little longer”, I ask. “We have so much to talk about”.
He shakes his head again, with a rueful smile. “I’d like to, but I gotta go.”
He fixes me in his clear thoughtful gaze and flashes that thousand-megawatt smile. The smile that lit up every room he walked into, the smile that illuminated his world.
“Don’t worry Dad, I’m okay now.”
“It’s all good.”
“So long, Pops, I’ll see you around.”
I straighten up as he kicks the cart into gear and heads down the path, clubs rattling as he bumps along. I watch as the cart dips into a little swale, and just like that, he is gone.