*Primary Progressive Aphasia, a degeneration of the part of the brain that affects speech.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

All For One, One For All

It’s a perfect day for golf. The sun is shining and the temperature is in the 70’s. There is no wind. Although I’m not a player, the weather delights me because it means Tommy will be hitting the links with his three friends.

This is Tuesday, the day of the week I cede responsibility for Tommy to the group I call the Three Musketeers. I fancy Barry, Hal, and Marshall as characters from the Dumas novel because the way they care for my husband, their motto must be “all for one, one for all.”

I’ve driven Tommy to the golf course, and paid for his round and the rental of a pull cart. After he rolls his clubs onto the practice green, I take a seat on a concrete bench to await the arrival of at least one of the Musketeers.

While my love for the Musketeers could be considered self-serving because they give me a day off, Tommy enjoys their personalities. Each player adds charm to their game that keeps my husband entertained for hours.

Barry is the first to arrive. He is an artist, retired high school teacher, and devotee of dancing and jazz. “You’re here!” Barry says as he approaches my bench. His golf bag is slung over one shoulder like artillery. Sometimes, he can stop by our house to pick up my husband for their weekly outing. But today, other appointments interfered. “Don’t worry, I’ll bring him home,” he always reminds me. All for one.

“Not a problem, I can drop him off,” I tell Barry. I’m sincere. I enjoy this small respite on the concrete bench. I enjoy seeing each Musketeer arrive from the parking lot. But mostly, I enjoy watching my husband on the putting green. His stroke looks perfect -- careful, slow -- as the ball slips through the grass and drops into the cup.

I never join the foursome on the course itself, so I can’t ogle Tommy’s swing. But, I know he still lives by his mantra, “hit ‘em straight.”

“He’s still the best golfer in the bunch,” Hal, aka Tiger, assures me. Hal is a retired advertising and sales promotion executive, which accounts for his proficiency as the Musketeer’s organizer. He sets up tee times and starts the round of phone calls to alert the players.  Hal’s acted in local theatre -- a talent that surfaces when he narrates his latest joke.

The third Musketeer, Marshall, is a retired attorney. He’s the young-at-heart and the eternal optimist in the group. In Marshall’s eyes, the glass is always half full; sometimes overflowing.

“Beats me every time,” Marshall will tell me when I ask how their game went. Each Musketeer is aware I hang onto positive assessments. And a good game brings my husband home with a smile. When he opens the front door, his hand outstretched to show off his score card, his face is as bright as the morning’s sun.

There was a time when Tommy was obsessed with perfecting his golf game on his own, not only on Tuesdays. We bought the expensive cable package because it included the Golf Channel, he subscribed to two golf magazines, and there was never a question as to what my husband desired for gift-giving celebrations. “Book about golf,” I’d tell my daughters when they queried. I’d purchase the same.

I’d encourage this obsession. “Let’s go on the Internet and we’ll search for DVD’s,” I’d say. Tommy, who shuns computers as if they were unexploded bombs, would pull up a chair next to mine. “That one,” he’d say, as I scrolled the offerings. After the DVD’s arrived, Tommy would overcome his aversion and use my laptop as screen.

There were memorable incidents during that time of my husband’s addiction. Errant balls pinged a dent in the bedroom’s sliding glass doors and in one of our living room windows. His determination to use real golf balls when he practiced at the nearby park, instead of whiffle balls, would send me, a neighbor, and the park director to his spot. We pleaded with him to switch; he turned us all down.

This season, all practice in the house and park evaporated. We still have the Golf Channel, but Tommy only lands on it while flipping the remote. No new DVD’s have been ordered. And when my daughters asked about Father’s Day, my answer was, “Sweatshirt, no logo, medium.”

Gratefully, my husband still relishes his Tuesdays with his Musketeers. That’s when Barry, Hal, and Marshall watch over him, and I take off. All for one, one for all. Cue La Marseillaise.

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