“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.” – William Shakespeare
Last June, on the morning of my birthday, I was getting ready to go to the golf course. Years ago, my wife Sandra made a suggestion, (which has become an annual tradition for us), “Mike, this is your birthday, you should do whatever you want.” Although, one year, she did “nix” my Harley Davidson purchase with plans to cruise old Route 66.
Anyway, back to the story. When we lived on the coast of Virginia, doing “whatever I wanted” amounted to loading up my surf fishing gear and spending the morning on the beach fishing. While I was in search of the ocean’s bounty, Sandra would bake my yearly birthday cake or pie selection.
After returning to Clarksburg, West Virginia in 2005, I traded in my saltwater gear for fresh water gear and found a local lake to test my skills. I also traded in my 1969 Northwestern Marty Furgol signature rose wood golf clubs for a new set. Thus, creating another option for my birthday morning – a quiet morning fishing or an unpredictable and potentially humiliating morning on the golf course.
That June, I chose to join some of my friends on the golf course. With Sandra in the early stages of baking my requested New York-style cheese cake, I began my morning golf ritual. After my manly-morning routine, I picked out my pants, shirt, shoes, and hat. Next, I packed my go-bag with necessities: snacks, cell phone, wallet, lucky divot tool, my 1967 25 cent lucky ball marker, and my little blue velvet Crown Royal bag containing a wagering stash. We play high stakes golf – 10 to 25 cent Skins game.
Next, I packed my cooler with ice and beverages, microwaved my coffee travel mug, picked up everything, and headed to the garage to load the car. After carefully packing my gear, I went through my mental check list. This I have learned is very critical. One time I took the roadster, which only has two seats and a small trunk – too small for my clubs. The clubs ride in the passenger seat. When I pulled into the club parking lot, I shut off the engine, got out and went around to the passenger seat to get my clubs. No clubs! Now, you understand why a check list is essential.
As I was proceeding through my list, I realized I had failed to pack my cigar case. Side bar: I always open it before placing in my go-bag. One time, on number 3 tee box, I opened the case and it was empty. As I headed back to the house, Sandra was standing by the back door with my keys in hand. Words were unnecessary. I said, “Not ready yet. I forgot my cigars.” So down stairs I went to “The Man Cave” where I keep my humidor.
I reached into the cigar box and picked up one cigar. Under that cigar was a small piece of paper with something written on it. The light was too dim to read what it said, so I turned on a lamp and held the box under the light. I just stared at that tiny piece of paper. There was one word, “Dad.”
Somehow, he was able to place a very special birthday wish where he knew I would find it. From the first birthday I could remember, Dad always tried to surprise me with something different. Something special.
As I got older, presents became less important and seeing or talking with him became more important. If we could not be together, he would always send a card and we would talk on the phone.
However, on my birthday last year, he found the most extraordinary way to say “Happy Birthday Son, I Love You.” A one-word note buried among my favorite cigars.
Perhaps now is the time to share the story within the story. To begin with, I purchased this box of cigars in February of 2015 from my regular supplier in Florida. The box sat in my humidor four months. The cigar stamp was intact and the box was shrink-wrapped with cellophane. On my birthday, I removed the cellophane, cut the stamp and opened the box. Removed “one” cigar and found his note. How it got there – a mystery that would have even puzzled Sherlock Holmes. However, I knew the answer after looking at his note for only a few seconds.
What I have failed to share with you until now is my father died in 1999. Sixteen years after his death, he found a way to communicate his love. There was no mystery. Dad found a way, once again, to say, “Happy Birthday Son, I Love You. And, I will always be with you.”
Today, that small piece of paper is with my father’s picture – a reminder that those we love can and do speak to us from a heavenly world. I guess Dad just felt I needed a subtle reminder.
On that one day. I had my answers.
Until next time,