Thursday, September 4, 2008

Double Bogie

No man should have to bury his son.
That’s one of two things my father ever taught me, the other being that a son should always surpass his own father in greatness. He said that every boy follows in his father’s footsteps, but at some point, to become a man, the son must overcome the father’s shadow and become something more, something greater, making each successive generation better than the last.
So here I am, casting a shadow over the grave of my youngest son, Matthew. In my hand, I hold a piece of paper given to me by my other son, David, who is three years Matt’s elder. It was in turn given to him by his doctor, Sam Winston. Winston’s a twelve handicap, but he usually plays like a seven. We’re all pretty sure that he’s not submitting his scorecards, but no one calls him on it.
The piece of paper in my hand is David’s chemotherapy schedule. He needs me to drive him because his license was suspended for DWI. Matthew was in the car when it happened. They had just won the member-member. They got their names added to the plaque on the wall. I’d have been proud if I had known—my name’s up there twice.
Ever since my wife brought him home from the hospital, David always looked after Matt. Protected him, like an older brother should. The car hit one of those orange water bumper barrels on the highway, which, obviously, the water doesn’t really do much except make a big bloody puddle. David got out of the car; Matthew didn’t.
My own father died ten years ago, natural causes. He never told me that he loved me, not once. It’s stuck with me, haunted me well into my adult life. Me, I never miss an opportunity to say it to the people who matter most. Not after that.
I never thought I’d run out of opportunities.

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