This year was my dad’s 50th birthday. My mom began making big plans for it ahead of time. The centerpiece of her plans were to have a golf outing for my dad which would involve he and his brothers, as well as me and my brothers. Also in the works was a trip the next day to see a Cardinals game.
But the logistics of hosting so many families for a couple days in one home were going to be complicated. So my mom and dad decided to add a bathroom to the basement and to build a new deck in the backyard. These were pretty major projects, and it became a race against time to finish it all. My dad has written about the joys and pitfalls of the various projects on his weblog.
For my part, I was a bit nervous about the golf outing, having not played golf in quite a few years. While we were in San Antonio, I went with my brother Jonathan to have a session at a driving range. I was pretty rough, but I did have some good swings.
While we were visiting Jonny and Brittney at their home on Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas, Jonny informed me that he had just learned his leave had been taken away. They wouldn’t be able to go to my dad’s birthday extravaganza after all. I knew my mom would be sad.
Once back home, I hit the driving range two more times, bring Jadzia along each time. The second time out, she was not content to be a spectator. She wanted to hit. The clubhouse didn’t really have any clubs her size (or left-handed), but I grabbed a small iron for her. She wanted to do the swinging all by herself, but this proved an exercise in futility and frustration (for me anyway). I had to make her let me help her, and then we started getting some contact.
My own swings were getting much better. That final session at the range produced my best swings yet, and I was much more consistent.
But those results didn’t exactly transfer over to the golf course. My mom had gotten my dad’s boss to set up tee times for two foursomes at Greenbriar, a private club near Kirkwood. My uncles were in rare form and my dad was excited. Justin and I both knew we were going to stink up the joint, while our cousin Jeremy was probably going to be pretty good.
I was pretty bad through the early going, but I did get better and have a few solid drives and hits. Still, there was no point keeping score. Better to just play and enjoy the afternoon and the beautiful course. And enjoy it we did, it was a blast.
Still, it was a surprise to learn after all was over that my cousin Jeremy and his dad my uncle Jerry had beaten my dad.
When we got back to my parents’ house, I took a little spin through the new basement shower. Very nice, indeed. If I had money, I might hire the same guys (including my dad) to build one in my own basement.
The birthday bash was a lot of fun. The best part of that night (or really those two days) was hearing various family stories. It’s been quite a while since I got to spend so much time with my dad and his brothers all together. It really made me yearn for days gone by when my grandpa Renaud was still alive and we would have raucous times at their house on Parthenon. I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and tried to capture as much as I could on video.
I would be remiss if I neglected to recount the fact that my dad couldn’t blow out all the (51) candles on his cake. This may be due in part to obstruction of air flow by the plastic golf cart decoration on the cake. But still, it’s an ominous sign when Jonny boy blows out all the candles for his birthday but dad does not.
The next morning I found Justin and uncle Jerry poring over a partially-disassembled laptop. They were trying to diagnose and repair some sort of power problem. I had assumed that would be the sort of thing uncle Jim would be all over, but he was more of a spectator/adviser.
I couldn’t help but flashback to those years when we lived on Yaqui in Florissant and uncle Jerry came to visit. At that time my dad was using an Atari 520ST computer he had been given by uncle Jim. It was probably 5- or 6-year-old technology at the time, but we still loved it. Mudpies was the game that occupied our time: it involved a man throwing pies at clowns and navigating various obstacles to get from one side of a room to the next. Justin had the record, if I recall. Uncle Jerry stayed up all night playing the game and setting a much higher high score. The man is driven.
Anyway, we spent the rest of the day bowling and later going to a Cardinals game. Of course my dad and uncles bested us young dudes in bowling, but at least I was consistent, throwing three games of 120-130.
So kudos to my mom for putting this event together. It really was memorable.