Friends are the most important part of your life. Treasure the tears, treasure the laughter, but most importantly, treasure the memories. – David Brenner
God has blessed this planet with some remarkable minds labouring unceasingly to arrive at solutions to the problems plaguing the human race. Take the actors in The Big Bang Theory for example. Brilliant minds, but put to minimal use. All theory; no practice.
On the other hand Marcel, Moe, Brian and I – four awesome minds - assemble for coffee three or four times a week for the good of all humanity. That is three or four hours a week devoted almost exclusively to finding solutions to the grave problems that elude the think tanks, politicians and tacticians of the world. When we are in sync our minds are like well oiled machines. While hardly batting an eye or exerting a brain cell we tackle problems and propose resolutions to all that ails society in the twenty-first century. Yet, unlike the scholars on The Big Bang Theory, we never ask for a penny in compensation. This is our gift to the planet. We do all this strictly as a public service. When I look around our usual coffee hangout I see other seniors gathered in groups of three, four or five individuals, in all likelihood some of them tackling the same problems as we do, but I doubt that putting all these other groups together would result in anything near the intelligence, tenacity and devotion to task that we exhibit.
Occasionally, however, we will take a day off from our labours, rest our minds and challenge our bodies with fellowship on the golf course. Such an outing was planned for August 27, 2014. It was the annual Knights of Columbus Manitoba best ball tournament to be held at Larters at St. Andrews Golf and Country Club near Winnipeg, Manitoba. We entered a team and, as was our habit, we decided to gather for coffee the day before the tournament to strategize and agree on our travel arrangements for the thirty-five minute drive to the golf course. Marcel volunteered to do the driving and someone suggested we should take a camera along and take a few photos. I said I would do that, but just to ensure I remembered to pack the camera when I got home I said I would set the alarm on my cell phone for 4:00 p.m. to remind me to charge the camera battery and put the camera in my golf bag.
Marcel had the audacity to comment that when the alarm rang I would probably forget the reason it was ringing. The guys had a good laugh about that; we concluded our strategies and headed home with the agreement to meet at ten the next morning to travel to the tournament.
Some thirty-five minutes later I'm sitting in front of my laptop checking emails and my damned cell phone alarm rings. I knew right away it was to remind me to do something, something to do with golf the next day, but for the life of me I could not recall what it was. I checked my "birdie flask", and sure enough, it was filled with our favourite beverage; I checked my golf bag to be sure I had balls, tees and a little snack. As I did the circle check Marcel's words haunted me, "The alarm will ring but you'll forget what it was for." Well, I might have a bit of short term memory loss, but I haven't lost any pride. I knew that if I phoned Marcel he could tell me what I had forgotten to do, but then he would have another chuckle at my expense and I was determined not to let that happen.
As the afternoon and early evening wore on, Cecilia and I ate our evening meal, did the dishes, went for a walk and watched a little TV, all the while an uneasy feeling in the back of my mind. I knew that I had to remember to do something, but it just wouldn't come to me. Finally, it was about 10:30 in the evening, time for old folks to get to bed.
In bed over the previous six weeks or so I had been reading the old Herman cartoons. We have eight of the books entitled the “Herman Treasuries” and they are absolutely hilarious, especially when I hadn't looked at them in several years. I had finished the Herman books and enjoyed them so much as bedtime entertainment that I had picked up a few old books of Far Side cartoons and had been revelling in them each evening. I was just into The Far Side Gallery 2 by Gary Larson. Finally at about 10:45 P.M. I came across a real "far out" cartoon - I guess that's why they are called Far Side - of a pack of hyenas, all hungrily devouring the carcass of some dead animal, all except for one hyena who looks up at another hyena in the background who has a camera pointed at the whole scene. That hyena, looking up, says, "For crying out loud, Doris ..... You gotta drag that thing out every time we all get together?"
Thank God and thank Gary Larson! I immediately realized that I was Doris, I was to bring my camera to the tournament, and I had better get at it. Springing into action I jumped out of bed, located my camera, charged the battery overnight and was fully prepared for photographic action at the tournament the next day and my pride was intact.
The next day arrived: warm, sunny and absolutely ideal for the event. I have some great photos to prove it. However, when it comes to golf our skills are inferior to our intellectual prowess. Needless to say, we did not win the tournament, but if our objective was to rest our minds from the daily grind of solving humanities' many problems, in that we were successful.
There are only three questions remaining. First, how did Marcel know that I would forget why my cell phone alarm was ringing? I guess he is either psychic or he knows that seniors’ short term memory is somehow vanished. The second question is “Do I ever admit to the guys that I almost didn't bring the camera because I couldn't remember why my cell phone alarm was ringing?” Well, I fessed up! At our next coffee gathering I confessed that Marcel was right. The guys had a good chuckle at my expense and we moved on to solving the world’s problems. The third question is - uh - sorry, I forgot the third question. Maybe there were only two questions.
Gerald M. Sliva
"The greatest thing about golf, there's no end to it unless you're dead. You just go from here to the Senior Tour." - Fuzzy Zoeller
Family traditions are terrific. Most families who are really close carry on some traditions from the family of their birth, then form some new traditions with the new family into which they marry or with whom they form strong family relationships. The Sliva brothers – Don, Jim, John and I have developed a new tradition which binds us closer together as we age. The four of us make a natural, but certainly not professional golf foursome. We all live in different parts of Canada, but once a year we plan a Sliva Brothers Annual Golf Classic. Anyone watching us might think labeling it as "golf" is doing an injustice to a terrific game. However, it is "annual" and it is becoming "classic". We started our annual golf gatherings in 2007 and have continued them yearly since then, with a rotating host between Toronto, Winnipeg and Regina with occasional side trips to Saskatoon where our wonderful sister hosts our extravaganza.
The first year we had our tournament we didn’t have a tradition; so we just decided to have a best ball tourney with the older brothers, Don and me against the younger brothers, Jim and John. Our brother Jim is a fun-loving master of the pun, an inveterate story teller and a generous person. The second year of what was to become a great family tradition was 2008. That year my brother Jim bought us great team golf shirts with the following embroidered in gold on the front of each “Sliva Brothers 2nd Annual Golf Classic”. On the left sleeve of the older brothers’ team shirts he had embroidered “Team Old and Decrepit” and on the left sleeve of the younger brothers’ team shirts he had embroidered “Team Fat Bastards”. From that moment on we were christened and we instituted a terrific tradition which I hope we continue until the day we die – then carry it on in the Great Beyond. I guess that is the Senior Tour Fuzzy was talking about.
Gerald M. Sliva
"In show business, if you make a mistake, you can do it over again." - Bobby Sherman
"The same can not be said of golf." - Gerald M. Sliva
Well, you can actually do it over again, and again, and again, and again, and sometimes even once more. But it keeps costing you strokes - unless you cheat. Golf can be one of the most frustrating, agonizing and *@#?&*+& pastimes invented. It can simultaneously be an obsession, a curse and a joy. The ball has a mind of its own. It always ends up in the hole - eventually. Ernie Els and Jordan Spieth, two amazing pro golfers proved that to us at this year's Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Ernie Els, with his six-putt quintuple bogey on the first hole, and Jordan Spieth, with his flame-out quadruple bogey on the 12th hole par three proved that even seasoned professionals can miscue.
When I saw their misery I said, "I've been there! I can do that!" Actually, I've done that, and worse. No golfer alive can deny doing the same. Our consolation is that we didn't have hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line; and we didn't have millions of people watching us.
With that in mind, I have decided to devote this blog and two more to the game that gives us fresh air, green fairways, great companionship and teaches us that there are four letter words besides "golf". When you head out to the links this summer, remember to swing hard, lift your head to see where the ball is going, and then swing hard a second time because you missed the ball with your first attempt.
Finally, remember that we golf for fun, not profit.
Gerald M. Sliva
P.S. You may share in Ernie Els misery by clicking on the image of the damaged golf ball to take you to a video of his heartbreak.
Still Barking! Blog of