It always looked like great fun. On Christmas Day I would always see guys-mostly black guys-walking the course at War Memorial down the street. I took up the damn game about the time Mother went to assisted living in Conway. At least that is my recollection. Time doesn't exist in quite the same way anymore. So I may be off a by a few years.
In any event, I would always see guys out playing golf on Christmas Day while I was en route to spend time with Mom and I would think, "Boy, that looks like fun." Well, now I got the chance, or I would if it were not so damn wet out there. That and it's freezing today.
A friend asked me if I felt like an orphan now. She said that's the way she feels about herself since her remaining parent passed away a year or so ago. To me the question is a little fatuous. To my way of thinking, orphans get created by traumatic events early on in life. Certainly there is nothing remotely tragic about the passing of an elderly person who was terribly ill. But out of respect for my well meaning friend, I will ponder how I do feel.
And the answer is that I don't really know. I feel a strange disconnect from everyday life and my current memory problems are probably a symptom of that sense of disconnectedness. I am told this is "perfectly normal." It may be. But it is also a pain in the ass.
I am also told by well meaning people that they are sorry that Mother passed away during the holiday season. I never tell these equally well meaning people that I have always found Christmas to be sufficiently odious under the best of circumstances and that my "enjoyment" of the holidays will not be particularly diminished by the recent sad turn of events. Like I said, they mean well. So I don't tell them that.
But back to the golfers. I have always wanted to play golf on Christmas. And I have often wondered what it would be like to spend Christmas somewhere else. I know people that go to New York for Christmas. They watch the ice skaters. They take in some shows. I have always wanted to go to New Orleans. To see Papa Noel, the Quarter lit up, the bonfires on the levees. That always sounded like great fun. I hear San Antonio is pretty cool this time of year.
I have never acted on these feelings because I always felt like I needed to see Mother on Christmas Day even though in her last years she did not know Christmas from Arbor Day. I am not a particularly sentimental man. Neither do I ordinarily give in to superstition. And God knows I have very little use for Christmas.
But something made me always spend time with my Mom every Christmas morning. And so that is what I did. I can't do that any more.
Some bright Christmas morning, when you can get out there without being ankle deep in mud, I will go join the brothers out at War Memorial for a round of golf. Or I may walk down the Riverwalk alongside the Mississippi.
The world has changed since December 4th.
And I can leave now.