I watched highlights of the first round of the Masters Golf Tournament last evening, my dear friend Sheila (shy-la). But it wasn’t the same without you. The tournament was one of your favorite moments of the year. When you and Harold were in your prime together, you went to the Masters at Augusta sixteen times, I believe. And you had perfect seats (thank you Santa Claus) and you met all the great ones. When you couldn’t go yourselves, you and Harold generously gave your Masters tickets to friends and Gold Seal employes.
In the time I have known you (2005-March 2016), you have watched the tournament gavel to gavel every year in your chair in your townhouse in Bismarck. Yes, I know that you like Phil M. (a family man) and you don’t much like Tiger W. (with his porn stars and arrogance). We have been over that a number of times, my friend! But excellence is excellence.
Sitting next to you watching the tournament is pure delight, because you are the most engaged viewer in America. You grip the arm of your chair on the long puts. You grab my arm when someone hits a perfect shot. You use Sheila-esque body English to bend an errant ball back onto the fairway. You grimace, grin, groan, and you celebrate, console, and counsel. Sometimes you actually jump out of your chair. You have a hundred stories that diminish the tedium of the commercials. Sometimes you talk about your own run as Bismarck’s finest woman golfer (my term, not yours), or the time you golfed with Lawrence Welk at Pebble Beach (and Harold, who didn’t know a three wood from a putter) served as your caddy.
But it is not the same now, dear Sheila. This year, at least, it is just another golf tournament, and it is almost too painful to watch without you. This morning, when I woke up, I thought, “I’m going to call Sheila and see how she likes this Jordan Spieth,” but then I remembered, and I felt a vast wave of sadness.
Update, my dear friend: Phil is currently tied for 18th; Tiger is “otherwise engaged” this year; I imagine you like young Rory, and Jason Day doesn’t quite seem to have the right stuff this time. But stay tuned.
This is the first hard moment, Sheila. Next will be opening night of the Musical. Then the Fourth of July, because someone else (if anyone) will be handing out ice cream bars from your back yard in Medora. And your birthday is only a month away. I’ll climb Buck Hill, but you won’t be there to egg me on.