I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment, and life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve. This level of resolve can move mountains, but it must be constant and consistent. As simplistic as it sounds, it is still the common denominator separating those who live their dreams from those who live in regret” – Anthony Robbins
I borrowed the title of this blogentry from the new Black Eyed Peas album. The last couple of days just hit me kind of hard if you hadn’t guessed. Although three years have passed, the memories of my father are still strong and I’m learning they will always be withme. Although my father probably didn’t have a very tight relationship with his father, I’m sure there was enough to hold onto that lasted a lifetime for him.
My life is spent trying to make those long lasting memories for my own children. If I were to leave them prematurely I want them to have something to hold onto and cherish as their own. The night before Father’s Day we went out to a night baseball game that had a pre-game ceremony to honor Randy Johnson as only the 24th pitcher to reach the 300 career wins plateau in Major League Baseball. This is out of the over 8000 pitchers who have ever thrown a baseball in the major leagues. There in person were greats such as Tom Seaver, Gaylord Perry, and Nolan Ryan and we had front row seats. My son just sat there in awe reading the accomplishments of these men. When I asked him what he got out of it, he told me that none of them reached their goal until they were in their 40s. It is not what I had noted, but it was observant. These men had not only worked hard at their craft but they did it for a long time.
Well Father’s Day rolled around and like my dad did when I was a kid, I snuck out of the house to the golf course. Playing San Francisco’s Presidio Golf Course is my way to still play golf with my dad. Years ago I walked the course in the evening and spread my dad’s ashes. It was the route he walked his dog many time and the course that he played on many occasions as it is only two blocks from the house we lived in as a family. There is something about baseball and golf between a father and his child. Whether they are watching or playing, there is lots of time to talk about the little things in life that create the largest memories.
It was a beautiful Father’s Day and I was matched up with three other Fathers who had snuckout as well. One of the joys of San Francisco municipal golf that my dad instilled upon me was the fun of meeting new people on a golf course and getting to know them over a course of 5 hours as you stroll beautifully manicured terrain. We were really four strangers walking alone withour thoughts. Occasionally I would stop and stare at a tree or a bunker and could still see my dad playing. I hadn’t played a full 18 holes of golf in several months, but this round was special. I’ve played this course close to 100 times in my life and on this Father’s Day I played my best round ever. I almost matched my dad’s feat of a hole in one on Father’s Day as I missed one by about 2 feet. Probably the closet I’d ever come. Nope, no storybook ending here. It didn’t matter. I had a great day with my dad and I’m sure he would have given me a few pointers and word of advice. I could still feel his presence behind me reminding me to keep my head down, whistling at my good shots and chuckling at my lousy ones and shaking his head.
I came home to watch the US Open and the video clip above played. It is the story of a family that lost their father prematurely 10 years ago just a few months after their father (Payne Stewart) had one of his career highlights on Father’s Day. It was a sad but great Father’s Day story and tells of how his son still follows in his father’s steps. Myabe everything isn’t identical, but the purpose is similar. The 5 hour hike /walk/ golf round earlier had cleared my head but more than anything gave me peace of mind and although I didn’t match my Father’s hole-in one, I had a renewed energy about playing the course better than ever before.
In watching the US Open I rooted for Phil Mickelson, a man tormented by his wife’s pending breast cancer surgery. His co-survivor cancer story mirroring my own, I felt right there with him. On Monday, his charge ran short and he finished as a runner-up in the US Open for a record 5th time. The ending almost looked perfect, but he lost. Then I thought about it. The commentators kept using the words “storybook ending”. If he won the tournament it would have been a great accomplishment, but I don’t think it would have been storybook. He and his wife are facing surgery next week and I’m sure there are many more happier endings that they could think of right now.
As my day ended at work I got a phone call. It was my doctor. I knew it would come some day. Cholesterol lowering drugs. I’m in better shape than my father and live a healthier life, but its just my dad’s genetics and this is one legacy I did not want to follow. Let this be a lesson to all out there. I just reached 500 miles run so far this year. I ate steel cut oatmeal 5 days a week for the last 2 years. I have a low weight for my height, yet my genetics still drive a higher than normal cholesterol count.
Going back to baseball I just read the story of 1st baseman Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds who lost his father last August. Baseball was his connection to his father and suddenly without him there, he just couldn’t do it anymore. The man who played catch with him, coached him, and taught him how to respect and love the game was no longer there to enjoy it with him and he didn’t know how to do it alone. He said this past weekend he spent one last weekend in solitude with his father’s memory on Father’s Day but that he is now ready to resume.
Yes there were no storybook endings this weekend, just the real world. But that is okay, because as we all can see, the focus and dedication to follow our dreams and goals is what matters as long as that energy never dies. From Payne Stewart to Phil Mickelson to Joey Votto, we see examples of a relationship of a Father and son, a husband and wife, and the communication channel of a conversational sport where life’s lessons can be taught. Payne Stewart’s son Aaron has found a way to honor his dad, Phil Mickelson found a strength to show his wife how much he wants her to fight, and Joey Votto found a way to let his Father’s memory live under a different type of energy. These aren’t storybook endings but they are all nice stories in a chapter of a long book.