Every once in a while, life presents you with a challenge that puts everything else into perspective.
Last year, life presented me with two of these challenges.
Things happen. I get that.
But losing my dad and being forced to get my left hip rebuilt was tough. Very.
My dad was my best friend and partner-in-crime on the golf course.
We have a special bond that’s hard to put into words.
When I found out that he was diagnosed with lung cancer, my world shattered.
As a freshman in high school, I was already way too familiar with this six-letter word. Just a few months earlier, my granddad passed away from cancer.
I was still grieving over his loss, and now my dad has to battle the same thing that took away my granddad.
I owe a lot to these two men.
My dad was a warrior. He always told us not to worry about him, that he knew we had other things going on in our lives, and that he’d be just fine.
So, he battled and fought. Every day he used whatever strength he had to try and kick the cancer right out of him.
And for me, well, I did what he told me. I tried not to think about it. But as you can imagine, that was nearly impossible.
My dad was fighting the battle of his life right before my eyes. It was hard not to think about it.
And during my senior year, it became apparent that he was losing his fight.
It’s a day I’ll never forget.
It was a Tuesday morning. I was in the second semester of my freshman year at Presbyterian when I got the devastating call. One of our close family friends told me that my dad was in the hospital. And that he wasn’t doing well.
I dropped everything and immediately rushed to see him.
It didn’t matter that our team was just four days away from starting conference play. The only thing that mattered at that moment was being there for my dad. My coaches and teammates understood that, and they all worked with me.
Shortly after I arrived at the hospital, they put my dad on a ventilator. The next three days were emotionally exhausting, but I wanted to support him every step of the way.
On that third day, we said our final goodbyes, and he passed away.
It was so hard to see him like that, but I’m thankful I was able to be there.
One of the hardest parts is that life continues, but it’s never going to be the same again.
My dad and granddad won’t be at my tournaments anymore. But I know they’re still out there watching over me and giving me some good bounces here and there.
And, let me tell you, I’ve needed some of those lucky bounces.
As if my dad’s battle wasn’t testing enough, life threw me another curveball just a few months later.
Since I was born, I had a deformed hip. Doctors have always been aware of it but weren’t too concerned since it didn’t bother me very much.
But unfortunately, it started acting up and affecting my golf game.
I’m sure swinging a club over and over again wasn’t the best for my hip, but it’s my passion – and something that will always remind me of my dad and granddad.
My hip became inflamed and it got to a point where I couldn’t walk long distances without feeling a throbbing pain.
So, I did what any rational person would do – I went to see a doctor.
They gave me two options. I could let my hip get worse until I physically couldn’t golf anymore, or my doctor could operate on me.
Surprise, surprise, I went with the latter.
It felt like a huge slap to the face. Up until this point, I had been using golf as my coping mechanism since my dad’ and granddad’s passing. All of a sudden, I wasn’t going to have it anymore.
I had the surgery in August. And then spend a grueling semester rehabbing in hopes that I could get back out onto the course.
Now, I love a challenge.
One of my favorite parts about golf is how mentally challenging it is.
But going through physical therapy pushes your mental state as much, if not more, than your body.
I went to physical therapy five times a week with the Presbyterian trainers.
And thanks to all of their incredible support, I can say with confidence that I’m back to 100 percent.
As I mentioned earlier, these two hardships put a lot of things about life into perspective.
I used to think the worst thing was getting a bogey. Not literally, but you get the point. Now, I know there’s a lot worse.
Through the deaths of my loved ones, and pushing through surgery, I’m a stronger person than I was before.
And, most importantly, I learned how valuable and precious life truly is.
Now, I go out and make the most of each and every day.