Saturday, April 7, 2012

Memories of The Masters

Dad upside down with joy!

Golf was not a sport I would have chosen, but my father was smitten. Every weekend, Saturday or Sunday…he got up early and went out the door to a public course - to swing his frustrations away.
Dad was a quiet person. He designed furniture all of his life. Dad’s high level of creativity took over his mind, by the end of the week, he needed a release. His home was filled with mom and four daughters so there was no place for a man to rest.  He learned that his best bet was going out the door and onto the golf course for peace. I learned; if I wanted to be close to him, I would have to follow him to his retreat.
I would get myself up early, get dressed and be ready to walk with him on the course. I would be his caddy and he would let me a take a swing every now and then.  Dad came alive on the course. The fresh air, the walk and the quiet of the greens transformed him to a calmed and happy man. He would do a little jig with a good drive, sing a little song after a good putt and any time a special par was hit…he would even do a back flip. It always made me feel special to be with him, hiking up and down the greens, stomping out the divots, handing over clubs and cleaning balls. But I was a dancer at heart.  The older I got, the more time I spent in the studio.
Daddy passed with cancer when I was a teen, so my days on the golf course were over. Yet, I never lost the love of watching golf on TV. Dad and I would always talk about the different players and watch the different tournaments with keen interest.
In my 26th year I struggled through cancer myself. The treatments left me without hair and without strength and so it was quite a surprise to receive a call from a dear couple that I had known for years. They were very ‘well to do’, they had supported my ballet career for many years and were concerned about my health.  But this call came in the middle of the day, asking me how I was feeling. “Fine” I said, it was usual come back to the constant questions over my health.
“Well then, that is good news,” the gentleman said. “Because we have a seat free in the plane and we are going to take a quick trip to the Masters, final round in Georgia, tomorrow. Are you up for it?”
“Yes.” I said.  I was then given the information to be ready late that night at a local airport for the departure. .
I should not have said, Yes…I was to be careful about being around people with germs at the time. But something inside of me just pushed me to take a plunge. I wanted to get out of my ‘I’m sick pajamas’ and into a pretty sundress for an adventure. I remember I left the house almost the minute after I hung up the phone and bought a new wig.  It had longer blonde hair and would help me feel less exposed to stares-  than the one I had been wearing.  I added a pair of summer shoes, that would be comfortable walking on the course and kept myself from worry with a smoothie from a health store.
I was nervous as I drove, in the wee hours of morning, towards the airport. Pulling my car into the private parking area and asking for directions to the plane was unnerving. I wondered if I should just drive back home. Something kept me going. Kept me steady on my task as I walked through a large hanger and there in front of a beautiful Lear Jet, stood my friends with their party of four.  I was ushered onboard and cuddled into the most comfortable seat I had ever sat in…in my life. The plane took off and before I knew it we were airborne and flying fast towards Georgia. The plane had a stunning interior. There was a Purser to settle me in with cookies and tea. There was the smell of leather and the company was upbeat and kind. I soon found a special ladies’ room with Joy perfume set out for our casual use. Towels hung with initials and the mirror with lights to freshen up my make-up. I had been on small planes before, but never on a private jet. It was so exciting, full of luxury and comfort.
The flight was not just smooth - it went by like a bullet. We were down on the ground and into a wonderful limousine in a flash. I was given tickets to two different areas to watch the course. One was in the shade, the other, in the sun. It would be my decision where to go and I told them I would wander for a while and get a feeling of the beautiful Augusta course.
It is silly trying to explain the smell in the air, at the Masters. There are so many people mingling around and times of quiet and times of joy or disappointment. The air is filled with fresh grass and blooming azaleas that are so lush and wonderful.  I had left Seattle in a spring rain and I was now standing with the sun on my face. I just walked and poked my head in to tents with food, tents with drinks, tents with venders and tents with friends watching TV. I walked and walked and then found the famed country club. It was so lovely. I stood back a while and watched the members come and go from the club and how they talked to the doorman. I did not have a ticket to enter the club. It was a place for members and guests only.  So I just watched the way they moved and talked and what was being said.
I was tired. I could tell myself that my fight with cancer was going well--but we all know that the fight takes so much out of you, even if you’re young. I wanted to sit down, and just relax. I wanted to be inside that clubhouse. So, I put on a smile and joined a group of people approaching the clubhouse stairs and up I went. I smiled at the doorman and he opened the door and in I went! My heart almost fluttered out of my dress!
Inside the view was even better. Large arrangements of flowers and blooms, people cheering and woodwork that looked like it had been there forever. I wandered around and went from one “Men’s Only” sign to another until I found a ladies powder room. I relaxed and freshened up and back out to the bar area. Once there I was offered a drink and told to use his member number on my other drinks.
I spent the day talking to members. They were wonderful people from all over the south and the US. I listened to jokes, watched the large TV’s that had been sit up around the room and just enjoyed myself. Lunch was wonderful…a lovely shrimp salad and warm rolls. I drank sweet tea and ate bon bons in pastel colors. Then when the final round was coming down the course, I moved up close to the big window that over looked the 18th hole and watched as Floyd wrapped up the Masters with a flare.
When the players began to come into the clubhouse and others were getting ready for the awards ceremony;  I slipped back out the door and rejoined my party of friends. They were shocked that I had entered the hallowed halls and got a big laugh about my day of being pampered.
The trip back was just as fast and lovely…we arrived early on Monday morning and I drove back home as the sun was rising. I have always held that weekend as a magical time in my life. I thought of it as a gift from my dad, during a hard time….his worry of my health must have pushed the event into my life. The couple that had been so kind to invite me, would never understand the connection I made to my father...but the kindness they gave to me that weekend would be remembered in my heart forever. 
I think of it each year as I watch the Masters on the TV. I think of my dad, the wonderful plane trip, the luxury of the clubhouse, the kindness of so many strangers and my luck at even being near that event and winning my battle over cancer.