A Dying Man’s Last Request

A re-post for newer friends:

My biological father (I’ll call him “RP” for the remainder of this post) was an avid golfer. He always dreamed of playing the Pebble Beach Golf Course. He and another man wanted to play the course together, so they began to pool their savings in a big 5-gallon bottle kept at the other man’s house. When the bottle was full and they could afford to go, his “friend” took all the money and spent it.

RP, who lived on the East Coast, never got to fulfill his dream.

He died a few years ago. His wife told me after he had passed that his last request was that I would scatter his ashes on the Pebble Beach Golf Course.

GULP! Something that you may not know about me is that I tend to be a Rule Follower, and if I don’t like someone else’s rules I tend to change games—which is one reason I’m self employed (my game, my rules)—but this request definitely fit into the Rule Breaker side of things. I figured that if I fulfilled RP’s last request I would certainly be breaking several rules and most likely several laws.

I was torn. Badly.

Ultimately, blood proved thicker than mere rules and laws (and I have probably never in my life used the word “mere” in front of either of the words “rules” and “laws”).

I discussed my dilemma with my Beloved. She was no happier or comfortable with the request than I, and probably much less so, but she offered to come along to offer moral support. We both knew there was a chance that I would be caught and arrested, and if she was with me she could suffer a similar fate, but she wanted to come anyway, and woe be to the person who tries to tell her “no” when she sets her mind to something.

When the day came, we drove to Pebble Beach, becoming more anxious with each mile closer we’d gotten, too nervous to even enjoy the fantastic views on the way there.

We noted with growing concern that security vehicles and guards were everywhere. It’s like they had their own private army.

We scoped the perimeter like a couple on a secret mission. Actually, we were a couple on a secret mission. Piercing the perimeter looked like a really BAD idea.

Our nerves were on edge but we also noticed that along with the risk and “danger” an element of excitement and adventure began to creep in.

The theme song from the original Mission Impossible TV show kept running through my head. Seriously.

Beloved put the clay urn full of ashes in her purse as we parked our car. We walked through the magnificent clubhouse with its main room that is so large that it has two HUGE and very impressive fireplaces.
The view was magnificent! We walked out the back of the clubhouse, across a patio with diners, down some steps and onto a large lawn area that led out to stone edge which looked marked the end of the lawn and the beginning of a small beach several feet below and the Monterey Bay. The golf course’s 18th hole was to our left and near the stone wall. I don’t recall what separated the course from the lawn near the stone edge but it wasn’t much of an obstacle. Perhaps a rope.

We had much bigger obstacles to deal with. First, parties of golfers were very often either on the green making their final putts or on their way to it. I couldn’t just waltz onto it and start spreading ashes all over it.

But the bigger obstacle was that a security guard must have decided that we looked suspicious and began following us onto the long beautiful green lawn that gently sloped down toward the Bay.

Our hearts raced as we looked at each other, wondering what to do. We’d come too far to turn back now. In a whisper I suggested that we sit on the on the edge of the lawn at the rock edge right up against the 18th hole, and try to look like sight-seers.

The security guard hung back and off to our right about 20-25 feet and appeared to be cleaning his nails. Yeah, right!

I decided to lay down parallel to the golf course and up against it with my back facing the guard. Beloved took out her camera and pretended to take pictures, gradually moving her body into a position that would perfectly obstruct the guard’s view. She reached into her purse and handed the urn to me. I placed it in front of me and covered it with a jacket.

But it became obvious that there was no way I was going to be able to walk onto the green without immediately drawing attention to myself, being stopped, and possibly arrested.

We did catch a lucky break in that a strong wind was blowing inland from the Bay, so if I could time the space between the golf parties just right, and if I could throw the ashes into the wind without being seen by golfers on the course, people in the clubhouse, diners on the patio, and the ever-present and attentive guard, the ashes would float onto the 18th green.

There were too many “IF’s” for my taste, but it was the hand we’d been dealt so we’d try to play it.

The whole urn and ashes thing had kind of creeped me out, so I hadn’t opened the lid of the clay urn since it had been handed to me on the East Coast.

That proved to be a BIG mistake!

When I think of ashes, I think of those soft floaty things that that gently float up from a campfire. So, when I reached into the urn I expected to feel kind of a soft, light powder.

My eyes must have gotten huge when what I felt bore no semblance to anything even remotely resembling ashes!
It felt like a nearly solid mass with a consistency that was closer to sandstone than ashes. (It should be noted here that I tried to be as respectful as possible through the whole process as I was aware that what I was touching was the last physical remains of the man who was one of two humans responsible for bringing me into this world, and that his remains should be treated with respect.)

Still, I was freaked out. It might have even been funny under other circumstances but at the moment laughter was about the furthest thing from my mind as I felt a surge of panic.

I groaned, then whispered the latest problem to my Beloved. She gave a startled expression followed by a shrug and a, “Well I guess you’re just going to have to deal with it” look that I knew so well.

But it was Beloved who came up with the next tactic, whispering “I’ll distract the guard” as she picked up the camera and walked away.

I looked over my shoulder following her with my eyes and watching the guard out of my peripheral vision as I began feverishly scraping the contents of the urn with my fingernails, trying to loosen it all.

I waited for that hoped-for critical moment when everything aligned perfectly: The 18th green had no one on or near it, the guard was facing away, and the wind was gusting in from the Bay. I just had to hope that no one else walked onto the lawn and that everyone else was too far away to notice what I was up to.

The seconds turned to minutes, dragging on interminably, while I continued scraping the contents of the urn and Beloved walking to the other side of the lawn, pretending to take photos of the gorgeous scenery.

The guard had the choice of watching Beloved to his right, turning his back on me, or vice versa. He chose her. GOOD CHOICE!

Just then the 18th green was clear, and I slowly and nonchalantly stretched my right arm high over onto the golf course as if I was stretching contentedly without a care in the world. As I did so I opened my hand and flicked the contents with my fingers. To my great relief and with substantial help from the wind they scattered over the 18th green. I did this a few more times, never knowing if the next toss would end with my arrest, but lucking out every time.

I signaled to my beloved when I was done, and we reversed the process, getting everything back into her purse.

As I stood up I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

The two successful secret agents soaked in our success, and even took a victory lap of sorts. We walked into the clubhouse and sat in some beautiful chairs. I ordered RP’s favorite drink, a Dirty Vodka Martini on the rocks, and Beloved ordered a glass of champagne.

We toasted to RP.

Then we toasted to what we’d accomplished together.

I don’t recall ever having a drink that I enjoyed more.

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About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 4 young grandsons. I manage a wealth management firm I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of 23 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and enjoying our small redwood grove and fern garden.
This entry was posted in Adventure, Challenges, Commitment, Duty, Humor, True Stories I've Written and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Dying Man’s Last Request

  1. I remember reading this before and you accomplishing your ‘mission’…still enjoyed it again..Diane

  2. billgncs says:

    I am laughing out loud at that. I hope the statute of limitations has expired !

    • Anonymous says:

      Me too! I actually think about that occasionally, such s whether I should list “Pebble Beach” in the tag words when I posted this today. (I chose not too for the reason you mentioned.)
      Russ

  3. “We scoped the perimeter like a couple on a secret mission. Actually, we were a couple on a secret mission.” “I couldn’t just waltz onto it and start spreading ashes all over it.” Some of the most memorable lines I have read!!! 😀 Oh Russ!! I’m laughing here and trying to keep it down at the same time! Oh what an absolutely delightful tale. I squirmed and cheered you on every step of the way! What a brilliant piece of writing too! I’m so glad I came over and read this today. Somehow from now on when I think of you, it’ll always be a vision of you with your hands in the urn trying to scrape the contents out onto the green! Thank you. I think you made RP real happy. Hugs, Sharon

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Sharon. Your comment was the first thing I read this morning and it put a smile on my face and in my heart. Thank you, dear friend. We are on a semi-vacation (I work until the U.S. markets close, and then we go do a lot of fun things from 1pm Pacific/West Coast time until we drop–which has been about 9pm lately!) for part of this week. So you may see another re-post or two before I return. We’re staying at a gorgeous Victorian bed and breakfast in Pacific Grove and can hear see and hear the ocean’s waves crashing all night. We love it! Right now the morning sunlight is turning the waves into liquid gold as they hit beautiful rugged and jagged rock formations and break into white sprays that shoot 15 to 20 fee into the air. Carmel by the Sea, Point Lobos, Monterey, Big Sur, and more are all nearby. We are are truly blessed in our favorite local place (or anywhere for that matter) and are very happy.

      Hugs, Russ

      • Russ,
        I love your writing! Even this short reply made me see all the gorgeous surroundings you are in right now. Write more! Very happy for you and enjoy!!

        • russtowne says:

          Thank you, Sharon. I feel the same way about the way you write. When I see one of your posts I rush to read it as a starving man to a feast, but then I catch myself, remembering how much I enjoy every word, and slow down to savor each exquisite morsel.

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