Two of my sons are on a golfing trip in Scotland. The story of this trip is perhaps one of the most touching, sad, and happy stories I can tell you.
Regular readers know that we lost our second son, Jonathan, in February. what you don't know is that his wife and my oldest son had been planning a golf trip to Scotland for the three brothers who golfed as a surprise for Jon's 40th birthday, which would have been this September 4.
The planning had been going on for about 2 years as details were worked out--which golf courses, reservations, flights, rentals, etc. It was to be the trip of a lifetime and would include playing a game at the famous St. Andrews course which I believe is the oldest known golf course in the world. The plan included stops at golf courses all around the Scottish coast.
All went well until the past January when Jon began planning to do something on the very days George and Jennifer had reserved for the trip. What to do? There was really only one thing they could: tell him about the trip.
The last time I spoke with Jon, he had called me in excitement.
"You'll never guess what Jennifer has done!" He said, and I let him tell me all about it. I'd known about the trip for some time, but I wanted to hear him tell me. He was amazed and humbled that his wife loved him so much that she would go to all the trouble to plan this trip--and that she had been working a lot of extra hours to pay for it so he would not see anything on bank statements or elsewhere that might give away the secret.
Jon talked happily for a long time that night, telling me about the trip, his delight that his brothers George and Derek would also be going, his pleasure in the recent accomplishments of his daughters, and his deep love for his wife. He was very,very happy, and totally contented with his life at the moment. We ended the conversation as we always did:
"Bye, Jonnie. I love you."
"I love you too, Mom. Bye."
Those were my last words to my son, and to this day I am grateful for the habit begun with my parents, to end calls to loved ones with those three simple words.
After Jon's death, the guys decided to call off the trip and take a refund on the tickets. But after a few weeks, they reconsidered. If Jon had been the one to survive, he certainly would have gone. What better way to honor their brother than to continue with their plan and celebrate his life and love of golf?
They are now working their way around the Scottish courses and sending brief messages via Facebook of their travels. George is trying to keep up a blog of their travels, although so far has hasn't been able to spot much except the first day of their trip. If you're interested you can follow along at http://www.wvhighlands.blogspot.com/