A few weeks ago, Steve and I went out with another couple for dinner.
Over dinner, the wife/friend excitedly told me that in honor of her 46th birthday, she was planning to play 46 holes of golf the following day.
She said that various friends were going to be jumping in and joining her at certain times of the day, starting at 8 AM.
She jokingly invited me to come and golf, I jokingly agreed.
Perhaps I said I would come not only because the wine I had with my dinner had gone to my head but also because I like the idea of doing something commemorative and unusually excessive for one's birthday. (Like running 10 miles for my birthday, for example)
The odds of me actually going to her 46 holes of golf birthday were low.
-I have NEVER golfed.
-I don't own golf clothes (although I do have a pair of never-worn golf shoes I bought at a garage sale many years ago)
-it was scheduled to be a COLD November day
-the idea of driving myself to Oakmont, an unfamiliar golf club that has the reputation of being strict and stuffy (no jeans, no cell phones, and definitely no golf hacks on the course)---and blindly searching through 18 holes for a woman crazy about golf was not something I looked forward to doing.
The next morning, I woke up and remembered my promise from the night before.
I asked both of my daughters to help me dress like a golfer, which we figured
was to look somewhat preppy.
They helped me get into "golfing costume" and when at a certain point, I voiced my hesitation about actually going--they encouraged me to "just do it."
With the girls' involvement, there was suddenly more at stake.
Their audience to either my bravery or chickenshit default of staying in my comfort zone- impelled me to go.
I was nervous.
As is my practice, I prayed that all will be well.
I got there at about 11 am.
Without prior knowledge as to where my friend was in her day of golf--when I found her, she had finished 27 holes and providentially,
she and her friends were starting a fresh round and were right by the FIRST Hole which was nearest the clubhouse.
As I walked out on the golf course towards Colleen, she did not recognize me.
Maybe she didn't know it was me because she was not actually expecting me and second, I was IN COSTUME!
The look of surprise and joy on her face when she realized I had come to honor her birthday filled me with extreme pleasure.
It has taken me a few weeks to process how amused Colleen was and it has dawned on me that her reaction was something familiar to me.
I had experienced this exact emotion on Dec. 3, 1981.
I was a highschool sophomore in Maryknoll.
I had some classmates over for dinner and cake and we were all wearing our school uniform.
The doorbell rang and to my surprise it was my best friend, Elaine.
Although she and I did not go to the same highschool she arrived wearing a borrowed Maryknoll Highschool uniform as a surprise to me.
I remember how delighted I was about the effort Elaine made to arrive "in costume" somewhat like a performance artist.
It has suddenly occurred to me that the happiness I got from surprising Colleen, was due to my own appreciation of Elaine and her effort.
We give what we get. (and yes, we get what we give)
I walked three holes in Oakmont before I decided that it was time to go--and had unintentionally left Colleen right at her 30th hole--
which was the age Elaine would have turned had she not died two months short of her 30th birthday.
There is something comforting about this experience loop.
For Elaine Henson Feb 23, 1967-Dec 10, 1997