Perhaps it had been sitting on his shelf, collecting dust, for a few years. He probably looked at it frequently, knowing that I would be in possession of it some day in the future and I’m sure, deep down, he knew he would not be the one to present it to me.
It arrived on my doorstep a few days after learning of his passing the week prior. I was crushed to hear that he had left us. But the sentiment in the gift is just as heart-felt now as it would have been had he been able to give me the gift himself because that gift meant that he valued the relationship we had developed.
It began 20 years ago. I was working a summer job in the pro shop at a resort and he was a man hosting a charity golf tournament to raise money to find a cure for the illness that took the life of one of his children. As a family, they hosted that tournament every year and I was happy and honored to become a part of it every spring.
As our relationship developed, so too did the amount of time we spent outside of the tournament hours. Our Friday afternoon “meeting” before the Saturday tournament consisted of a “two-finger” pour of rye and coke. I made my way back to my office in a bit of a haze since his two-finger measure was his index finger and pinky finger with a good inch and a half in between. Had I been a smoker, I would have been extremely concerned about having an open flame so close to the fumes I was exhaling!
He was charming and he was a dedicated family man. He always had a kind word, a comforting hug and a heart of gold. The family tournament came to an end when his health was a bigger concern. I eventually changed jobs and we lost touch, apart from the odd phone call, but I always have and always will carry him close to my heart.
God speed, Tom. You were a special part of my life on this Earth and you will be a very special part of my memories.