79: Early Retirement

79: Early Retirement

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

Early Retirement

Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting.

~William Arthur Ward

My fiancée, Lauren, and I were in her hometown of Philadelphia, where her aunt was hosting Lauren’s bridal shower. The plans for the day largely entailed my staying out of everyone’s way until the end of the shower, when I would then be introduced to several of her parents’ friends and family.

My prospective father-in-law, Milt, who had only recently taken up golf, naturally thought the best form of introduction would be a golf outing involving me, him and a family friend whose wife would be attending the shower.

Now I hadn’t picked up a club in months, but not wanting to disappoint Milt (and not wanting to play a larger role in the bridal shower than absolutely necessary), I agreed.

As it turned out, we were running a little late in making our tee time and I didn’t have any opportunity to warm up with a bucket of balls before the round, as I had hoped. There was also a slight backup on the first tee. To make room for the influx of golfers, Milt had pulled our cart a little farther forward than safety would normally dictate. I thought about saying something to him but as he was to the left of the tee box, and I normally hit the ball so far right that golfers in the next fairway are occasionally sent ducking for cover, I assumed he would be in no danger. I was wrong.

I caught the ball off the heel of my driver, sending it directly into my future father-in-law’s right hand. Now, my relationship with Milt had always been friendly, but formal. At this point, not only was I confident that was going to change, but I wasn’t certain Milt was going to lend his blessing to my marrying his youngest daughter.

I was also convinced that I had, with that one blow, sent my future father-in-law heading toward an early retirement. Milt is an ear-nose-and-throat doctor and is required to perform certain types of surgery in order to continue his practice.

Horrified at what I had just done, I began to shake so badly that I couldn’t even think about finishing out the hole. So I picked up my ball, got an ice pack for Milt, and took the wheel of the cart while Milt bravely attempted to continue playing. By the time we got to the second hole, Milt somehow had me laughing about the whole incident.

“Todd, you didn’t hit me hard enough,” he told me. He explained that if I’d done more significant damage, he’d have been able to retire (something it turned out he’d been contemplating anyway), while collecting on a nice insurance policy he’d taken out just in case of golfing accidents involving future sons-in-law.

I chuckled, then replied, “Well, we’ve got seventeen more holes. I’ll see what I can do.”

It was the first time I’d felt completely at ease with my future father-in-law, and perhaps more than anything else that took place during Lauren’s and my engagement period, his gentle, good nature during the incident made me feel like a part of her family. After all, who else but a family member could have forgiven such an act?

Milt finished the round and made it to the bridal shower before heading to the emergency room. It was determined that I had, indeed, broken a bone in his hand—a fact he kept hidden from me until well after the wedding as he didn’t want me to feel any worse than I already did.

But now that I know, I feel even better.

~Todd Behrendt
Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul

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