The Things A Father Keeps

When Ben was younger, he would occasionally do craft-y things and bestow the results of his efforts on me. Attached to my backpack via a small carabiner is a tassel-like thing he made out of plastic lacing cord. On/in my bedroom dresser there’s an “I LOVE YOU” created from perler beads and a figure of a boy or man Creeper figure from Minecraft (Martha reminds me of what it really was) constructed of rubber bands that he put together on a loom. There are art projects from his very early years that still have a home in my office at school. And I have kept the various birthday and Father’s Day cards he’s given me across the years, This last item turns out to be history repeating itself.

Sometime in the last year or so of my father’s life, I was looking for some paperwork in the drawers of a cabinet in his basement office and discovered where he had stored cards, particularly those he’d received from Amy and me. When I was clearing out my parents’ townhouse in the summer of 2015, I made sure to pack them in a box to bring back to Georgetown. A little over a year ago I took the time to do some looking and sorting. The cards weren’t usually dated, but simply counting them seemed to indicate he’d retained complete sets, going back to the year I was born (both for birthdays and Father’s Days—the two events were always within a couple of weeks of each other). I laid the cards out in several groups and took pictures. Here’s one of Father’s Day cards.


As far as I know, this sort of hoarding isn’t that unusual (my mother had also kept quite a few of her cards, though not all), but it was still touching and sweet to find, not to mention a lesson in the history of greeting cards (he also held on to birthday and anniversary cards from my mother).

I got another dose of what my father held dear this past week.  On Monday, I went golfing with a couple of biology colleagues. Maybe until the beginning of this decade, I used clubs that I’d gotten in the late 70s. The woods were persimmon, the irons blades, both fairly outdated after three-plus decades. About twenty years ago, Dad had purchased a new set of clubs (metal woods, cavity-backed irons) for himself along with a new bag and a pull cart. Sometime after he had gotten too old to play anymore, I wound up assuming ownership of all of it.

The three of us decided to walk since we were just playing nine. Alas, I had left the pull cart at home, so I started rummaging through the compartments of the bag, looking for a shoulder strap. There wasn’t one; I wound up carrying the bag in my hand, which got just a little tiring somewhere around the seventh hole. But in my search I had noticed something in a couple of pockets that I knew I would have to examine more closely later.

I’d come across at least a couple dozen score cards of Dad’s. A sizable majority came from rounds in 1999 and 2000 at World of Golf, a short 18-hole course about a mile away from my parents’ home. These were from the times he’d been out after buying the new clubs—he just hadn’t discarded them after he stopped playing (the round when he shot his hole-in-one wasn’t there—I’ll have to look elsewhere for it, should it still exist). But the rest were from treasured outings of the distant past, transferred over from the previous bag. One was a round shot with two college and/or ministerial friends at a course in Louisville, maybe from the mid-60s when we lived in LaGrange. Another was his best round ever, shot at Devou Park in Covington (he told me from time to time how he regretted never breaking 80). It’s undated, but it has to be from either the late 50s or early 60s. I wish I knew who EFD was.

And he held on to a few cards from outings with his teenage children. In the late 70s, World of Golf had been just a nine-hole course—they expanded it in the 80s by carving holes out of the surrounding woods. The picture at the top of the post shows what it looked like when we began playing it.

My sister’s name is on two of the cards; I appear more frequently. This is probably representative of how a round with him went back then.

Fifteen or so years later, the tide had turned. I have no idea now why we didn’t finish this game, but darkness would be a reasonable guess.

At a base level, it doesn’t really surprise me that Dad held on to these (I still have the scorecards from my own best 18 and an outing or two with Ben). But I really had thought that by this point I’d uncovered any remaining gifts he had to offer. Maybe this is finally it, but then again, I suppose there’s the possibility I’ll be proven wrong again someday.

Happy Father’s Day.

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