As the commercials say: Progressive Insurance — even Dr. Rick — can’t save us from becoming our parents.
I used to chuckle at my parents — my father, specifically, when he would babble about the old times, how Father Time has bulldozed so many cool things and awesome people and the good today didn’t compare to the good of yesterday.
The discussions about his generation vs. mine were exacerbated due to the fact he was 46 years my senior. Four decades later, I’m that guy. And dang it, I’m OK with that.
Lately, my perspective is altered and my awareness of the ticking clock heightened. It came to a head this weekend.
In December, I witnessed the final days of Dania Jai Alai, my place of employment and fun for years in South Florida. Jai alai is a glorious pari-mutuel sport (you can bet on it) insanely popular before lotteries came along.
Jai alai’s time had come and gone. It was sad to see it end.
On a trip to Miami last week, the blossoming star I caddie for — LSU and Byrd product Philip Barbaree — played Korn Ferry qualifying events at two courses — Weston Hills and International Golf Links of Miami (aka, Melreese) — that hosted many of my biggest competitions from years ago.
I took my first golf lesson at Melreese four decades ago and wondered if the pro, Charlie DeLucca, was still around. As we arrived at the course, a giant banner read: “Charlie DeLucca Memorial Golf Tournament.”
Even the golf course I adored hadn’t survived. Well, not the course I knew. Melreese has been renovated, given a new name and is on life support as a group led by David Beckham plans to dig it up and build a soccer stadium.
I recalled plenty of other memories, people and landmarks during tournament week. I’m sure Philip tuned out at some point. I can’t blame him. I used to.
I don’t necessarily believe the new days aren’t as good as the old, but I sure do miss certain things, certain feelings.
My recent emotional journey tormented me the most on the day of my return to Shreveport, when I took the first flight home Thursday to ensure I’d be in attendance for Calvary soccer’s Senior Night.
I married in 2019 and was incredibly lucky to have three special people enter my life — my wife, Christi, and children Raelee and Colton.
This is Raelee’s senior year at Calvary. I’ve watched her play varsity soccer since she was in eighth grade. She’s not exactly Renaldo, but has scored multiple goals (and they cost me money) every season. However, this year has been a challenge. She’s still 4-foot-nothing and playing time has decreased — a credit to the improvement made by Calvary under head coach Adam Hester.
Raelee probably wanted more out of her senior year, at least ONE goal, but Thursday offered an opportunity to exit in style.
One thing was clear from the start: The Cavaliers had a mission to get Raelee that elusive tally. Between Raelee’s soccer and Colton’s hockey/soccer, I’ve watched hundreds of games with the same wishes: health, victories and some dang goals.
Goal scoring defines those sports. It offers validation for young athletes even though goals don’t always accurately represent personal performance.
I’d like to say I spent 80 minutes on the edge of my seat Thursday, but it’s more complicated. As the game progressed, the nerves intensified. Raelee took shot after shot with the help of her unselfish teammates. A save, a ball wide, a slight shank — the ball did everything but touch the twine. When she crashed the net, the ball would deflect the opposite direction.
Again, all I could think about was my father, who walked every fairway of every tournament I played. In this moment, I finally realized how much he lived and died with every golf shot. He wanted the glorious moment to emerge; not for him, but for me.
I did not understand until Thursday. Yes, we want to walk with our chest out with a that’s-my-kid grin. It’s fun, but the look on their faces when in those moments are unmatched.
Raelee needed this. There was no way the man above wouldn’t let it happen to the sweetest human on earth.
Well, Raelee only had an assist to her credit when the clock ran out on Calvary’s 7-0 victory despite her best (by far) effort of the season. I was crushed.
I thought she’d be a wreck. Nope. She came off that field with a smile and made sure we were still going to eat quesadillas.
I could again hear my father: “Not everyone walks off the field a hero.”
If all enjoyed a Hollywood ending, such things wouldn’t be so special.
My parents are gone, and it sucks. But like the trip down memory lane in Miami, the memories and life lessons are vibrant and will be passed on.
Raelee’s time is coming.
Photo by KIM JOHNSON