In 1999 I first wrote this article as a tribute to my father and father-in-law. It is reprinted today – updated – due to the many requests and positive feedback that I have received.
June 17th marks a very special day for many families. Father’s Day is that once-in-a-year opportunity to celebrate Dads and show them how much they are appreciated and loved.
Fathers give many things to their families. They give us advice, support, and most importantly, they give us their time. Fathers share with us their knowledge, their innermost feelings, and tell us of the many years of life experiences that they have accumulated. Fathers are teachers. It is their responsibility to give us direction and to teach us what they have learned in a lifetime.
My father bought me my first set of golf clubs. I remember playing golf as a junior with just a five iron, seven iron and a putter. The shafts were all wooden and painted yellow, but I loved them. My father purchased a golf membership for my brother, sister, and me so that we would have a place to play all summer. He used to drop us off at Victoria Park in Guelph where we would spend the entire day playing golf. We would often play 36 to 54 holes in one day and Dad would always be there in the parking lot at 5:15 to pick us up.
Golf became a passion that Dad shared with his kids. Dad would make sure he played with us regularly so that he could share with us the knowledge that he had of the game. Dad encouraged me to play in junior tournaments regularly and would often drop me off and wait for over five hours to see how I had made out. Even if I played poorly, he would always be there with his encouragement. Dad realized how important golf was to me. When he sensed that I needed extra help he would arrange a lesson for me with our local pro.
Dad helped me to get my first job in a golf club. At the age of twelve I began working as a caddie and washed golf clubs at the Cutten Club in Guelph. Even though they only paid me a dollar an hour, I knew I had found my passion.
It has been nineteen years now since my dad passed away. My first reaction was of course one of sadness, until I realized just how lucky I was. I have those cherished experiences and memories of my father. He will never be forgotten. It was time now though for the torch to be passed on. I may not be able to spend time with my father, although he will always be in my heart, but I will make sure that I spend this Father’s Day with my children. It is time for me to give, to share, and to spend the kind of memorable times my dad spent with me and my family.
Fourteen years ago, to mark the fifth anniversary of my father’s passing, my mother, sister, and I planted an apple tree in our backyard. This spring, after many years of nurturing the small tree, the branches have spread out wide and hundreds of beautiful blossoms adorn the once tiny tree. My dad loved to work with wood (he was a carpenter by trade) and loved nothing more than sitting by the wood stove getting warm from a fire made with apple wood. Dad, I hope you enjoy your tree. My family and I look forward to watching it grow, cherish the apples that it will bear, and will rest a minute or two under the shade that it will provide.
In 2000 my father-in-law passed away. Over the years, Jack had become like a second father to me. To honour his memory an apple tree was also planted in our back yard. Today both trees are healthy and vibrant and ready to bear fruit.
This weekend, in addition to being Father's Day, it is also the U.S. Open Golf Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Course in Southampton, New York. The event will again have a strong field of players all vying for the second major of the year. Phil Mikelson, a father of three children, will be looking for his first ever U.S. Open win, amid a strong field of competitors. All four rounds will be televised on ESPN and NBC beginning on Thursday, June 14. For live updates go to www.usopen.com.
This Father’s Day, show Dad just how much he is loved and appreciated. If your father likes to golf, take him out for a round or even purchase a lesson for him. If your dad is not able to golf, then take him out on the course and have him ride the cart with you as you play a round.
It’s true that you really don’t appreciate something until it’s gone.
So please, don’t take Dad for granted. Ties are nice, but time is invaluable. Enjoy your day together. And Dad (Mike) and Jack, Happy Father’s Day. We’ll see you on the golf course or under the apple trees!
Happy Father’s Day to all!
Next Week: Tension: The Enemy of Performance