Letter from the Editor 

My father is 84. He's lived in the same small central Missouri town his whole life. He worked in sales and middle-management at a brick-manufacturing plant for 40 years, retiring in the late 1980s. He and my stepmother own two cars -- a 1993 Ford wagon and a 2002 Buick with less than 50,000 miles on them -- combined! Dad's played golf at the same modest nine-hole club since the 1930s. If you look up "stay the course" in a phrase book, you'll see my father's picture.

My two brothers and I stopped talking politics with Dad sometime in the late 1970s. It wasn't an overt decision. We just figured out that our visits were more pleasant if we stuck to talking about the Cardinals and Mizzou football and Arnold Palmer and left Reagan out of it. As far as I know, my father's never voted for a Democrat in his life.

Last month, my stepmother called and told my brothers and me that Dad had early-stage Parkinson's disease. She said, "Your father's worried all the time. He's not the same. He's not even playing golf." If you knew my father, you'd know how significant this last development was. My father and his 80-year-old pals usually play golf every day, weather permitting.

My brothers and I decided we all needed to go to see Dad. It was also a chance for a rare brotherly reunion, since we're scattered around the country. I should add that whenever any of us go home, we take our golf clubs, so we can relive our youth, hacking our way around the old home course. Dad always plays with us.

Not this time. He came out and followed us around for a few holes in his cart. He looked wistful, but he was happy to see all his boys at once, playing together like the old days. He chipped and putted around the greens, but it wasn't the same and we all knew it. The rigors and fears of age had put Dad on the bench.

That night, we watched the Cardinals win a World Series game. Between innings, the now-famous ad with Michael J. Fox came on -- the one in which he urged Missourians to vote Yes for stem-cell research -- the ad Rush Limbaugh had made fun of. It was then that my brother Alan broke the 30-year ban on political talk.

"Rush Limbaugh is a freaking idiot," he growled.

There was a moment of silence. My father didn't say anything, but I think I saw him nod his head, just a little.

Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment



We Saw You

GRRL FEST celebrates women in music

News Blog

Memphis Pets Alive (May 25-31)

Hungry Memphis

On the Scene at Barbecue Fest

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Twin Peaks and American Gods Bring Surrealism To TV

News Blog

Beale Street Bucks Gets Heated Debate

News Blog

Garner Recovery Fund Surpasses Goal in One Day

From My Seat

Lord Stanley Comes to Tennessee


More by Bruce VanWyngarden

Readers also liked…

  • Paper Cuts

    • Apr 6, 2017
  • Serious Christians

    What is the picture on your computer's desktop screen? Your kids? Your dog? Maybe a memorable vacation photo? Mine is a shot I took one October morning in 2012 as I was about to wade into the Little Red River. A mist is coming off the water, lit golden by a rising sun. The streamside trees are glowing yellow and red and that pale, dry green that says autumn is here. The photo captures everything I like about being on a stream. I put it on my computer so I'd see it each morning when I began to work — a reminder of the beauty that's so easy to lose sight of in the hustle of everyday life ...
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • Lightning Strikes

    It's deep in a November night in Memphis, and I'm awakened by rain. It's coming down hard, sounding like a million pebbles hitting the roof. The gutter I've been meaning to clean is overflowing outside the bedroom window. A flash of lightning illuminates the room, and I do what I've done since I was a boy: count the seconds 'til the thunder rolls. I get almost to 10 before I hear a distant rumble. Two miles or so. Someone else's lightning ...

    • Nov 19, 2015
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation