Note: I wrote this a couple days after my father's passing. I was encouraged to post it, and seeing as SoL is one of the websites I most frequent, I'm choosing to post it here first. Feel free to let me know how I can improve my writing, as I plan on writing several stories for this site.
My last memory of my father did not happen in real life. Rather, it happened the night before he passed in a dream. Two nights before, as I slept in his room in the hospital, I experienced possibly the worst nightmare of my life. In it, I watched as my father passed away in horrible pain, convulsing from seizures, his eyes wide open, staring at me full of agony as the life slipped from him. His gnarled hands were gripping my shoulders with desperate strength as I stood there helplessly, unable to ease his suffering other than to whisper that I loved him and that I would miss him, and that it would all be over soon.
Just as the light faded from his eyes I woke at 4:45 am, and immediately informed my mom I had to leave, as the nightmare was too vivid for me to go back to sleep, or remain in his room. Memories of this nightmare plagued me on the journey home to the point where I had to pull over on the side of the freeway and empty my tear ducts as the images of my dad's pain filled eyes assailed my mind. When I returned home, I tried to go to bed, finally snatching a few precious of hours of sleep well after the sun rose into the sky.
I spent the rest of the day in quiet contemplation. I'm not a religious person, and having attended private religious schools for all of middle and high school as well as college, the very thought of organized religion is enough to make me slightly queasy. However, I spent the day before my father's passing desperately trying to make a bargain with God so that his death would be the antithesis of the nightmare I experienced. That night I think the big guy answered me, and for the first time in my life I truly believed in the existence of a higher power.
I "woke" to find myself on the first tee of our favorite golf course, the course my father and myself played hundreds of times in his later years and among his all time favorites. It was early morning, our favorite time to tee off. The sun was behind our backs; the grass was still wet with dew. I stood there in my favorite pair of black golf pants and a bright blue Nike polo shirt, and watched in disbelief as my father approached me.
This was not the dad of recent years, walking in a slight shuffle, with graying hair and a frail physique. This was the father of my youth, a man larger than life who stood eye to eye with me instead of several inches shorter. His upper body rippled with muscle, obvious through his thin bright red Nike polo shirt, and it seemed that with a simple flex of his shoulders he could make his shirt rip a la Hulk. He greeted me with a laugh and a twinkle in his eye, and proceeded to knock the ever loving shit out of his first drive. I have been able to out drive my dad on the golf course since I was 14, but that round he hit shots that would have made John Daly jealous. His long and mid range irons were devastatingly accurate, and his short game was the envy of any PGA pro. The entire time we maintained the casual banter that was our norm during my adult years, offering advice on shots, commenting on the ball flight, and talking shit to each other when things did not go as planned. We also partook of several beers during our round, something that never happened in real life, but seemed oddly appropriate for the time.
While the round was being played, my father offered advice that I plan on following the rest of my life. Advice on why I should pursue a career rather than a job (a job is something you have to do, a career is something you love to do), what type of woman I should pursue and marry (someone as loyal and caring as mom), and if I ever have children, how to raise them (with endless amounts of love and attention). Anyone who knows my dad can attest that he has significant expertise on all three subjects, having a wildly successful career at a large insurance company for 30 years before retiring, marrying the perfect woman in the form of my mom, and maintaining a successful and happy marriage for almost four decades, and becoming an attentive, loving, and caring father, even though I'm a spoiled brat and can be a general asshole to boot.
Our round was the stuff of dreams for any PGA pro. Our drives were long and always found the fairways. Our iron shots were consistent and accurate, with nary a lay up shot, and our putts would have made Tiger green with envy.