I've played golf for the last three years in the Annual Friendship Home Golf Tournament. Monday the 21st of September was like the last two, perfect. I can not begin to express how moving and satisfying the day is for me.
Friendship Home is an organization seeking to create opportunities for adults with developmental disorders. In their words, "Our dream is that each individual with disabilities that we serve has a job or meaningful daytime activity, friendships that nurture them and activities that provide for educational, recreational and artistic experiences." Ultimately the organization is building a sustained organization that will have a physical space in the community where activities and respite may be provided for years to come. On Sunday September 27th at UCC Norwell from 12-2PM they will hold their ground breaking. That's the commercial, here's the content.
Three years ago, my dad asked me to play golf with him. I didn't understand what would happen. Playing in a scramble is straight forward stuff. Then he told me I would be playing with a Friendship Club member Jay N. with Downs Syndrome. I have known him for nearly 30 years, I went to Sunday school with him and was a swim instructor to him later. I hadn't seen him for 15 years.
As I waited for Jay to arrive, I got nervous. Jay has a youthful look, but thirty years ago he seemed older. He was happy to see me. Jay remembered me. I was happy. I soon met Scott M. another Friendship Club member. There we were, Dad and Scott rode together, as Jay and I did. Scott has the sweetest golf swing, effortless and reliable. Jay is a physical golfer, which is a polite way of saying if he connects it could go and go, but muscling the ball provides for an unpredictable outcome.
The day was special because it was effortless to play, even though something happened during the day that shook me. We laughed and joked all day. Then Jay told me he had a driver's license. At another point Jay bought a beer. I thought this wasn't right. I didn't think he should be allowed to do this. I did what I do best and forgot about it, concentrating on the fun we were having. I enjoyed myself and I asked how I could get more involved.
The second year was much less trying from my racist point of view. I did learn that some of Jay and Scott's friends were getting married, which got me going again, but I suppressed my bigoted and naive thoughts again. It drove me mad. I knew I didn't have these thoughts. I knew I was being bigoted and naive. I've always felt a strength of mine was knowing my weaknesses, and this I did not expect, even as we had fun playing golf.
We're now to this past Monday. I'd been thinking about myself and my issues for sometime trying to wash my insecurities away. Here came Jay and Scott. They remembered me again and gave me great big smiles. Then three things happened. My dad unintentionally made joke. I was having trouble understanding Jay. And then I watched Scott and Jay razz each other while dad and I were talking.
Jay got the joke before me. Jay took the time to slow down and speak clearer. And Jay and Scott were acting like two genuine friends that have great comfort with and love for one another. I got over myself quick. While the analogy really applies to me, I saw the gears click in Jay. He got it, he helped me understand him, and he was more normal than me.