Five years ago
this month, my beloved 26 year old son died after a brief and
courageous battle with cancer. He was damn near perfect, and I miss
him so much. It is a pain for which there are no words, but sometimes
you can almost see it in my eyes. Even my closest friends usually
look the other way because they donít want to see how deep pain can
He chose cremation
because he felt he shouldnít take up space after he was gone. He was
like that Ė a tree hugger and proud of it.
spread his ashes at Old Orchard Golf Course on a cool brisk evening
next to a pecan tree that looks like itís been there forever. He
considered Old Orchard to be his home course because he played it
regularly since 1990 with me, his Dad and his brothers. For those
familiar with the course, itís the tree next to the old windmill. He
really liked that old windmill.
couldnít count the number of times he played that course; he felt at
home there. He knew every twist and turn. We had always imagined
that one day he would teach his own children to play golf by bringing
them to Old Orchard.
put a bench, handmade by one of his friends, next to the tree with his
name on it and some words from Bagger Vance (the book, not the movie)
that talks of always being in search of your authentic swing. He had
read the book shortly before he died and liked the idea that you might
be able to find your soul through sports.
brothers tend the bench and visit it on holidays to set out a few
flowers or add some mulch. Every year for Christmas they have given
me a picture of themselves sitting on their brotherís bench. It is
almost as if he is growing older with them.
the past five years, people who are strangers to us make an effort to
tell us how beautiful the bench is in its simplicity. Our son would
have liked that. When we play golf at Old Orchard now, and laugh
recalling his incurable slice, we play a little faster to get to the
bench and ďseeĒ our son and brother.
Orchard, an integral part of our community, has been eaten-up by
developers. Brutalized. Flattened. Destroyed.
green space, the quiet, the pecans bursting and the squirrels running,
the chance to find your soul, a place we thought would be there
forever, is going to be leveled and concreted by the creeping
unsustainable development that our elected officials in Fort Bend
County encourage and brag about. You can almost see the pain go
deeper in my eyes.
Old Orchard was
rated one of the finest public golf courses in Texas. It was a
country club quality course for the working man to take back the game
of golf from the cigar smoking fat cats who only play to do a deal.
It was a course where you might find your soul instead of paying your
dues. It was beautiful. Its owners kept it excellent condition while
keeping the rates low enough for families to play. The profit margin
was low but the value it had to the community was immense. We
mistakenly thought that gave it a reason to exist.
will not be the first time that I have been called anti-growth by
someone looking to make a buck. They are going to build grand,
expensive houses on top of my sonís ashes. He would have hated that.
I hate it. I will not be able to drive down FM1464 again because I
know I will look over where the golf course used to be and ache. I
ache not only for my sonís resting place, I also ache for green areas
and places where families can be together in the quiet and build
figure that developers close by Old Orchard have sold the land around
it by boasting of the added benefit of green spaces and a prime public
golf course right in your community. And now they are eating that.
I understand that
nothing is forever. You donít have to tell me that. Iíve lost a
child, I know that better than you do. But I think the greatest loss
is the idea that pouring concrete is progress. I have lived here for
half my life. You cannot see the stars at night here anymore.
However, you can see the result of developersí big dollar political
contributions to eager politicians. You can clearly see the traffic
jams and over-crowded schools. The rise in crime is apparent and the
pollution is thick with haze.
Yes, my property
values have increased, but so have my taxes. Obviously, the value of
our memories is of no concern to developers or money crazed
politicians. Growth trumps quality of life for those who have made
their homes here. There are plenty of areas to build without tearing
down a pecan orchard and a golf course.
starts on November 6th, and they will build million dollar
homes over the ashes of my child. They call it progress. I call it
on November 6th, 2005 ----
brothers playing at Old Orchard the last day of play ---