The Golf Channel, a scrufty cat and an old man
|Chipping to the 19th Hole
By Gail Baker Katz
The scrufty old white cat was really his last friend. It wandered up to the patio screen door of his expensive condo one day and never left. That was almost three years ago. Frank had tried to ignore the furry face peering in at him as he watched The Golf Channel on cable.
On television, Danny Ellis chipped to the fifth green from an impossible situation. Phil Mickleson dropped one long into the killer sand trap on the eighteenth hole. Frank had just poured the self allotted one beer of the day. He was going to enjoy both the beer and watching the end of the four day match at the Houston Open. Frank leaned his recliner chair back and got comfortable.
Frank’s hands unconsciously formed an echo of his own golf grip as he watched Mickleson power swing the ball clear of the sand and up towards the green. Frank’s heart soared just as that ball zoomed up with a whoosh. He remembered that course well since he and his cronies spent many an afternoon there years ago. Of course his wife Mabel was always quick to point out he had spent almost as many evenings celebrating at the Nineteenth Hole Lounge.
But Mabel for all intents and purposes was really no longer with him. Reluctantly he placed her in the special Alzheimer’s unit at a classy nursing home near his condo four years ago. Frank still dutifully visited her four to five mornings each week. But “Visiting” was impossibility now. At first she forgot phrases and in the last 6 months even the ability to speak as Alzheimer’s continued its relentless destruction through Mabel’s brain.
Sometimes Mabel would stare at Frank. His heart would quicken. Perhaps this would be the day some latent spark would fire in her brain. She would recognize him and call out his name. In the last year the day never arrived. He couldn’t admit his despair to his children when they called him for updates. He didn’t tell them but he grew more reluctant to even see Mabel. However “Duty calls.”
Afternoons stretched long for a retired lawyer with no hobbies when young but work, golf and several beers with his foursome. Mabel was the lynchpin to his family and social life. Frank didn’t realize it until she became more and more reclusive. He didn’t even know it was Alzheimer’s ten years ago when he began his much anticipated retirement years. He didn’t know the void would become so huge.
Then that silly old cat appeared at his patio screen door. Frank planned to throw a cup of water to scare the thing but instead drifted asleep in the recliner. He must have really taken a long nap because when he woke up the Game was over, the beer was warm and the cat had curled up on the entrance concrete. Frank hollered “SCAT!” while stretching and starting to rise from the recliner.
The cat stood up, haughtily stretched its own front legs and walked off into the early evening. Probably what won Frank’s heart, was it turned and looked directly into Frank’s eyes and meowed. It seemed to recognize Frank much more than Mabel had.
“Aaaah. What ya going to do? “Frank called out to the cat. It stopped and came back to the screen door. Frank slid the door open a bit, the cat slithered in and the friendship began. Frank is convinced that cat likes the Golf Channel as much as he does. They curl up together each afternoon in the recliner.