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  • Ellen K. Reichman

Golf on a Friday Afternoon

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Originally published in Persimmon Tree Literary Magazine


1971

Rutgers University; married student housing, both graduate students

still newlyweds

me, 22

teaching 3rd grade

husband just turned 25

making the trek from New Jersey to Flushing, New York one Friday

unusual for us but planned on dinner with his parents

older, established, stable

his dad, brilliant, cerebral, quiet Eisenhower look alike

law and engineering degree

his mom,

factitious, tasteful, slight air of pretension

life force of the two

gentle chill in early October air; his dad had the day off

perfect

for 9 holes of golf

lovely table set; stuffed cabbage – her signature dish

visible note on the table stating he’d be home at 6

my husband’s father and my husband wrote the book on punctuality

if they say 6, it’s not 5:59 or 6:01, it’s 6:00. Sharp.

which came, and went

could be traffic. Maybe he joined a slow-moving group

“let’s eat” my mother-in-law declared

her house, her rules

couldn’t taste a thing, though – too eerie

someone at the door!

there he is! but why the front door? no one comes in through the front door of the house. Only the side.

it’s not his dad at all

two police officers, one fat, one thin, looking for the upstairs neighbors

why the neighbors?

chubby one said they had news they wanted the neighbor to give his mom

WHAT? my husband, frozen, statue like, asked for the news

his mom, behind me, like a shy child hiding from strangers

police officers

don’t lie

why are they telling us this

he left perfectly fine to play golf, at 66 years of age

but

died

on the 9th hole


watched the light leave my husband’s eyes

never to fully return

his mom rushed to the garbage can where that note now was

smoothed it out, caressing the paper

calm, secure household morphed into controlled confusion

no crying, wailing,

methodically, trance like

my 25-year-old husband turned into the man, not the son

need to identify body, plan funeral

many months later, per her wishes move his mom to a studio apartment in Manhattan rather than remaining in the large home of his childhood

my husband, always strong, dependable, reliable

became more resilient to life’s challenges

every future milestone - joyous tinged with grief

his dad didn’t see him grow into manhood

receive his doctorate

move cross country

meet his beautiful grandchildren

gradually

a transformation occurred

he embodied his dad’s spirit

five decades later and still will never again

eat stuffed cabbage

always wondered

did his dad take the swing

what went through his mind

and heart

before

he died

on the 9th hole

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