On Father's Day, I had an opportunity to observe different kinds of fathers as I, unfortunately, couldn't spend time with my own father. My father had passed away in 2008. I was at the driving range as, other than being on a golf course, it is the best way that I can think of to honor my father's memory.
My father was 40 years old when he took up golf and I took it up at the same time, at age 10. He taught me how to play golf and my father and I spent many wonderful hours playing different courses, hitting balls at the driving range, buying new clubs, and talking about golf together. Although I'm a much better tennis-player than I am golfer, golf has always had a very special sentimental hold on me. From ages 10 - 13, I was my father's golfing buddy. Then, as is normal, I became more interested in spending time with my friends and developing crushes on boys. My father and I resumed only occasional golf outings when I came back to golf, after several years of pursuing other interests. It was always a special experience for me to play golf with my father, even when one or both of us weren't playing well as spending time with him doing something that we both enjoyed was one of my favorite ways of spending time. I'll never forget the time that my father and I were matched with two much younger men and my father chipped into the hole and I followed him, immediately after, with a chip into the hole! The young men couldn't believe their eyes and I couldn't believe mine! My father used to chip into the hole once in a while, but, until that day, I had never done so, at least, I don't recall having done so. What were the odds of our making two great shots, like that, back to back?
This blog isn't really about golf: it's about different kinds of fathers and their relationships with their children. When I eulogized my father at his funeral, one of the things that I said was that my father was the perfect father for a woman like me. It was true. I was, indeed, very fortunate to have been born to a man who was light years ahead of his time and who genuinely admired and loved women, thinking that we were every bit as intelligent and talented as men and, admitting, without any prompting from my mother, sister, or me, that we were, probably, even more intelligent. What also made my father such an outstanding father, for me, was his optimistic nature, his belief that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to, and his gentle and loving nature.
While at the driving range, last Sunday, I observed two very different kinds of fathers: one of them was with three of his children. He was attempting to teach them all how to hit golf balls. They ranged in age from, approximately, 10 years old to 14 years old. I could see that the kids got along very well with each other and that none of them would ever become a professional golfer. They swatted the air a lot, instead of hitting the ball and the only one who had a little promise as an amateur golfer was the youngest boy. (There were two boys and the oldest child was a girl.) Despite their obvious lack of talent, the kids were enjoying themselves. They were enjoying themselves because their father made a point of interacting with and trying to help them. I could tell that he was a gentle man, like my father. Before this family came along, I had been observing another father with his young son. This boy was, approximately, 10 - 12 years old. His father had him hitting golf balls, non-stop, and the boy only got off a couple of decent shots. I could tell that he was getting tired and frustrated, but his father was more interested in, and busy with, his cell phone. Once in a rare while, this father would look up to see how his son was doing, but he missed his son's good shots. Despite the fact that I was busy hitting my own golf balls, I saw the boy's good shots. For all the attention that this father was paying his son, they might as well have been sitting in a movie theater with each other. The last father whom I observed, that day, was with his wife, kids, dogs, and teenage daughter's boyfriend and the boyfriend's parents. This father's kids were older than the other kids I had observed and this father was, clearly, the head of the family. His wife, kids and dogs were nice. However, I couldn't tell what this father was really like as I didn't have much time to observe him. However, I had had a long conversation with his son as his son was resting with the dogs when I came over to sit near him in the shade. He was a personable, sociable and very intelligent, 21-year-old man. I assumed that this father was a good father as his son seemed to be so nice and so well-adjusted. That usually comes from good parenting. The young man's sister seemed to be a nice girl and his mother was very nice. (She and I got into a conversation.) I didn't notice any deadbeat fathers, that day, as all of the men at the driving range who were fathers, to the best of my knowledge, were with their kids, however, we all read about deadbeat and criminal fathers in the news, almost on a daily basis.
We don't get to choose our parents: it's the luck of the draw. As I said to some people, this week, and as I posted in my business Facebook page, it's very important to have had good parenting. It is, however, out of our control.
I hope that there are a number of fathers and future fathers reading this blog. I congratulate the good fathers for being good fathers and I sincerely hope that the others mend their ways. I'm not Shirley Maclaine, so I'm not convinced that you'll have another opportunity to show the stuff of which you are made. There's today and there are your children who so very much deserve and need your love and attention. Your children didn't ask to be born. It's your responsibility, as fathers, to do the best job that you can by and for your children. You're one of their most important role models and your wives are the other. Don't let them or yourselves down. Take your best shot.