This week we headed to play golf at Gold Mountain, in Bremerton. It would be our second round of golf with Dad this year. Our first round was played back in March, under chilly weather conditions. During our drive to the golf course four months ago, we ran into spots of snow. When we set out on the journey this week, heat would be a factor. It would be a different round of golf, using water to keep cool, rather than beanie hats to stay warm. The temperature on the course this week was forecasted to reach over ninety degrees, it sure felt that hot. So, with windows open, we drove the two hours out to Bremerton. During our journey by car we found traffic already piling up on our route back home. Luckily from Bremerton we have another option for transportation. The ferry runs from Bremerton to Seattle about every hour. It had been years since taking that route on water. While eyeing the traffic, along with thinking the ferry could be a fun way to get home, we decided to ride the boat back. The plan was taking shape for the day. It was setting up to be good. The sun was out, the course would be good, and a ferry ride would top off the day.
Even with the day set up for success, there was still uneasy feelings. The relationship with my father has just begun its healing process. The last round of golf we played had gone pretty well, but that round had been played four months earlier. So, we checked in and loaded onto carts for the beginning of our golf day. Dad was running slightly behind schedule, but the practice putting green was there to pass the wait. My putting can always use the practice, making the slight delay useful. The anxiety continued to build while anticipating dad’s arrival. When he came around the building from the parking lot, it was good to see my father. We all naturally embraced and got him loaded onto a golf cart. Arriving on the first tee box, we found there was more time to spare. Our conversations began in a catching up variety. My anxiety started to subside with stories of my younger sister and brother. Dad seemed to be doing well, interactions were off to a positive start. We took our place on the tee and struck our first golf shots of the day.
It would be a rematch day for me and my father. After years of getting my rear kicked around on the golf course, I broke through to beat my dad four months prior. As he ages, an opening has been provided for me to compete. However, this time he seemed to have brought a more serious game. It would be different knowing we had become more evenly matched. Of course, shorter tees were still being played to help my distance. We might try playing from the same tee box at some point. The actual course at Gold Mountain was more challenging than was in my memory. The golf course has a fair amount of undulation. Many holes travel up one hill, then the next would move back downhill. It makes for golf holes that are interesting to the eye. Some holes ran along the side of hills. Gold Mountain felt exceptionally picturesque, with each hole framed with tall trees. Those trees didn’t feel close enough to the fairways for too much distraction. They provided my eye with structure to the hole, rather than intimidation. Gold Mountain felt comfortable to me. It was a challenge that would be fun to try again.
As the round went on, the relationship with my father continued to build. It can be difficult to heal a relationship that has gone off track. But, it seems important to learn about who another person has become. Instead of thinking about who you would like someone to be, it feels important to learn about who they actually are. No one has been a perfect person and I’ve made many mistakes. Learning who my father has become in that context seems to allow our relationship to improve. Accepting my dad for who he is, seems an important part of our relationship. It seems we might have taken another step forward, as we attempt to heal our relationship. However, it doesn’t feel as important to accept losing to my dad at golf anymore. Given that I was able to better his score last time we played. This round of golf would go to my father, with him bettering my score by one measly stroke. That loss with no doubt stung for a while, as I took an eleven on one hole and an eight on the final hole. There has been a plan to gather again to play golf in a couple months. So, until then, my loss will fester.
We left an enjoyable round of golf and went to do something else fun. There aren’t too many truly warm and sunny days in the Seattle area. So, when we do get them, it feels important to enjoy those few days. Golf was one way to enjoy the weather, but being on the water can certainly be another. Being on a boat of any kind has always felt like an escape. It’s something that has the ability to cool down the warmest of weather. Before driving onto the ferry, we had about a half hour wait. With the sun shining its final hours, the heat was still engulfing us, so we found some ice cream and a milkshake. It was shaping up to be a fun ride back to Seattle. We drove onto the ferry and immediately made our way to the top deck. Stairs on the ferry boats have always been pretty steep. It can take a fair amount of concentration to navigate them with cerebral palsy hampering my balance. But, I made my way up without incident and stood in the cool evening air. The warm day gave way to a refreshing ferry ride. We spent the hour journey outside enjoying the fresh, cool air coming off the sound. Once we turned the final corner, Seattle came into view. As our home city grew in size we sailed closer. It was awesome to view Seattle from that perspective, leaving me thankful to live in such a cool place, and enjoy the rare warm summer night ride aboard the Walla Walla.
It was one of those great days to remember. The opportunity to work on a fractured relationship doesn’t seem to come around often. We are blessed to have golf as our game of common ground. This second round of golf on the journey of healing the relationship with my dad felt successful. It was simply another small step in a process that could take time to truly heal. Even saying that, who knows how much things can be healed. Hopefully the rounds of golf will continue, as with the growth of our relationship. One of the most fun parts has been our new-found competition on the golf course. We have each won one of the rounds on this journey toward healing. It makes our next encounter that much more fun in looking forward to. Another fun activity to emerge was riding the ferry back home. Something my brother and I have found we enjoy. Hopefully we will encounter another round of golf that ends in a ferry ride home. Even with the challenges of rebuilding fractured relationships, we can still find unexpected joy along the way.