HOWARD WARD: Coffee Mug Picture Brings on Reflection
This is supposed to be my annual Christmas column. You know, the one where I ask TBGITRS (The Big Guy In The Red Suit) to bring some special gifts to some special people.
But this time, I'm caught in a quandary. I mean, there are a lot of things I'd like to see a lot of people get for Christmas. But I have to admit that I'm selfishly placing myself at the top of the list this year.
All I want for Christmas is to get back on a golf course.
As I write this, I am in my seventh week of recuperating from knee replacement surgery.
My B.W., doctor, physical therapist and all my friends tell me I'm right on schedule. They say the knee is fine.
I say Bah! Humbug! The knee is not fine until I'm back to playing golf.
Only once in my adult life have I gone this long without playing, and that was 43 years ago.
There have been a lot of Maxflis gone missing since that drought in my golf life.
As for the knee, it still aches. It's swollen, and I use it as a hand-warmer on cold days.
Two weeks after the surgery, I thought I would be playing golf within five weeks. I even signed up for a club tournament with my old buddy, Harv, for Dec. 12.
Well, that date's history, and I'm still hobbling.
Seriously, folks, I'm getting a little stir-crazy here. I'm in bad need of a golf fix. I need to tee it up with the Gates Four Gangsome one more time and listen to them make fun of my crazy golf swing.
Actually, the Gangsome guys tell me that I picked a great time to have the surgery. They say the weather has been more fit for ducks than golfers. And, as many times as I've had to drive to rehab on cold dreary mornings, I guess they're right.
Still, I'm dying to get back on the course. I'm beginning to twitch in some strange places, and I don't think it's because I'm addicted to pain-killers. Not yet, anyway.
I was sitting around the other day feeling sorry for myself as another tee-time without me was nearing when I noticed the coffee mug I was holding.
The mug is one I had made as a gift to one of my regular foursomes seven years ago using a picture of us standing together before a round. And as I looked at it, I couldn't help but think about some of the things that have happened to that foursome during those seven years.
On the left is Dr. Putt, so named because of his prowess with the putter, of course. Dr. Putt was a dentist until some nerve problems in his neck and hand forced an early retirement.
But retirement didn't' work out too well for Dr. Putt. He was diagnosed with bone cancer, had a leg amputated at the hip and can no longer play golf.
Next to him is Bobbyloo. Bobby owns a metal-working business and hits the ball so far we have to handicap him. But during those seven years since the picture was placed on the mug, Bobbyloo has lost a wife to a heart condition, undergone shoulder surgery and remarried.
Next is Big Mac, so named by Dr. Putt because he is a big guy with a big appetite -- for everything. Big Mac recently underwent hip replacement surgery and is scheduled to have a knee replaced next month.
And then there's me. I always thought I was one healthy sonovagun until just after that mug picture was taken. In those seven years since, I have been in the hospital with two mystery viruses, had an attack of viral encephalitis, undergone prostate cancer treatment and the knee replacement.
Maybe this darn mug picture was a jinx. Or maybe this foursome is just getting old.
Either way, I know even as I stare at the picture that this foursome will never tee it up together again. That's kind of sad.
But we're all alive and getting ready to celebrate another Christmas. We still have a lot to be thankful for.
So Merry Christmas, everyone! May all your golf shots sail long and straight.
Contact Howard Ward at (910) 867-6493 or (910) 690-2211 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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