Tiger

Tiger Woods won The Masters golf tournament yesterday.  Tears filled my eyes.  And I asked myself “Why?”

For me, The Masters is the important tournament in men’s golf.  It has a such a long history (1934), and it’s always held at the same venue – the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.  The course is extremely difficult, especially on the undulating greens.  It’s a classic test of golf.

Tiger won his first Masters in 1997, at the age of 21.  I was at the age of 48, already immersed in love for the sport.  As a teenager, I hit balls towards the far fence of a field on my grandpa’s farm, and then searched through the stubble so I’d have more shots to hit.  At home, the Don Valley Golf Course in Toronto was where I grew in the game, often playing alone with my thoughts.

Tiger became my hero in 1997.  He hit the ball so far.  He had charisma, something that I wanted.  And he was black, showing excellence to my context of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.  The truth is that Tiger helped me become a fuller person.  He was there on my journey to have far more of Bruce expressed in the world.  And when he hugged his ill father after walking off the 18th green at Augusta, I melted.  Here was a loving human being as well as an elite athlete.

Twenty-two years later, he bounces away from the 18th once more, arms aloft.  This time, his young son Charlie is rushing towards him, and the tender embrace is offered to a new generation.  It was just as sweet.

Much has happened since Tiger’s last major win in 2007.  We’ve heard of his affairs, his car accident, his aching back.  The “comeback” theme is heavy in the media.  I appreciate the man’s effort to return to the top of his sport but my damp eyes come from another source, I believe.  Tiger’s win yesterday allows me to revisit a younger Bruce – hitting balls toward that fence, trying to get over the creek in two on the 18th at Don Valley, walking fairways at the edge of sunset in search of a little white thing.  I get to celebrate the journey I’ve travelled.  I get to honour a younger version of me.

Thanks, Tiger, for pointing to a goodness that’s been inside me for a long time.

Ida

Last night Renato made me a welcome home dinner.  He’s been well trained as a “saucier” and the sauce which graced my chicken breast was beyond delicious.  And for an appetizer, he presented me with tomato slices and arugula greens adorned with smoked salmon.  Oh my.  And did I mention my two glasses of dry white wine?  Happy was me.

We talked and talked.  Renato told me about his mom Ida (pronounced Ee-da).  She died when he was 12.  She was in the water off an Italian beach with a girlfriend, both of them holding onto an air mattress.  The friend lost her grip and slipped below the surface.  Ida tried to save her.  They both died.

Ida owned a clothing shop and once welcomed a woman and her young son.  Her husband had died and she wanted her son to have a suit for his first communion.  Ida picked out her best suit for the boy and he tried it on.  Smashing!  She gave it to him … no dissent from mom allowed.

Another time, Ida was standing outside her shop, talking to a friend, when she saw a man chasing a young girl with a knife.  She raced towards him and tackled the fellow, most likely saving the girl’s life.

A life so richly lived.  Do you and I need to be similarly heroic in deed, or is it enough to be supremely kind?  Yes, kind.  I know in my heart that I would gladly risk my life to save another, but I don’t go there in my head.  Instead I choose to be kind, to look out for my fellow man and woman, to feel into what they need, and walk that journey with them.

I didn’t used to cry much at all.  Now I cry a lot.  I see people like Ida on my daily round and I’m moved by their humanity.  I want to be like them.  So many folks moisten my eyes.  Some friends start me coughing because I love them so much.

Thank you, Ida, for opening my lungs and my heart and my eyes.  Look what we give each other!