Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thirty on the Thirtieth

It all seemed so logical and simple at the time.  Standing next to his white Datsun B210 in shorts, t-shirt, white knee high sox and tennis shoes, Jack turned toward the apartment door where I stood and asked, "Would you like to go to Las Vegas with me?" Looking perplexed at his question, he then added, "And maybe get married."  "Maybe?" I squeaked and then screamed.  "Yes, let's just get married while we are there."   After all, my parents met during World War II and married within months of my father's discharge.  A simple Las Vegas wedding in The Little Chapel of the West had served them well, through nearly forty years of marriage.

In the two years we had known each other I had left a job and returned to it a year later; he had been laid off due to the oil bust in Oklahoma but was now working again full time at CMI.  Our kids were nearly the same age, pre-teens; my daughter and his two sons got along when we spent Saturday afternoons at the Duck Pond running, staying fit, and eating greasy hamburgers at O'Connell's Irish Pub on campus.  He already owned a suit and tie and I just needed a new dress that could be worn for a variety of occasions.   Simple.

Over the next two weeks we planned a three day weekend to the Flamingo Hotel;  my friends from Jefferson elementary quickly threw a surprise wedding shower (oh, the sexy negligees caused giggles and red faces.)   The yellow pages showed that the church in which my parents were married on May 25, 1946 still existed, but was now located out on the strip, near The Hacienda. Simple.

Wedding announcement mailed at 4:00 July 30, 1983.  Commitment
Our room at the Flamingo overlooked what is now called Bali's, but then it was the MGM remembered for it's fire on the 17th floor.  We stood in our room on the 17th floor and peered down and then across, then closed the curtains.  More nervous by the minute we decided to make the phone calls to the chapel and to the city clerk for a license.  Before leaving the hotel we mailed over 200 announcements of our wedding, ensuring that we'd go through with our plans.  Logical.

The chapel explained that they had a big wedding at 6:00 and another one at 6:30 but if it was just the two of
Little Chapel of the West
us they could work us in at 6:25.  Now all we needed was the marriage license, and maybe a stiff drink!  If only we had carried a camera, the stories that roll of film could tell would fill pages of this blog.  Arriving at the City Hall we realized that we were cold sober and standing in the midst of a circus show!  Even Elvis gets married in Vegas; striptease dancers get married in Vegas; cowboys get married in Vegas; Hollywood look-a-likes get married in Vegas;  drunks hang on to each other and yell sweet promises, and then get married in Vegas; but I was a librarian in a simple pink suit and Jack an engineer in a suit and tie.  We were so agog with the aroma of love and the dialogues around us that we flowed through the line like we were walking on rice.

Of course, we had no rings, but Jack didn't think that would be a problem in Vegas, I did.  When the quarter machine with the rotating handle that scraped and pulled at rings and coins in the giant case didn't produce a wedding band, we opted for a jewelry store and bought a gold band for me.  The last step took us to The Little Chapel of the West, but we were early.  So we entered the Hacienda casino to pass some time.  I played nickel slots while Jack played dollar slots, now that was scary to me, but the machine seemed to like him and repay him periodically.  The nickel machine simply dirtied my fingers and kept my money.  At 6:15 Jack suggested we clean up and walk across the parking lot to the chapel.

With cold sticky hands we held on to each other tightly and pushed ourselves onto the green lawn and under the eaves of the little brown church.  Much to our amazement the doors opened and a dark headed handsome man stepped out with his beaming young bride dressed in a long white gown.  As the wedding departed we watched another one form near the curb.  Just then a man stepped over and asked if we were the Watt couple.  Like clock work, we stepped inside, walked down the aisle and stood before the preacher.  Our vows sounded reasonable.  We didn't promise to obey, but to love.  With two simple but sincere "I do's" we were pronounced, to no one but the photographer and the clerk, husband and wife.  The picture was taken as proof of that moment, we signed on the license, shook hands with the preacher and walked out with a small bottle of champagne, a gift from the chapel.  As we stepped off the entrance and onto the green grass the 6:30 wedding party rushed inside the church.  Simple.

On July 30, 2013 we celebrated a lovely life together, simply, by grilling chicken outside on a cool July evening and toasting a glass of champagne.  To Love.....
Proof...the Watt couple, Jack and Letty

Monday, July 15, 2013

50 Shades of Green

Fifty shades of green outside my door.
Sometimes a cool July rainstorm slows down my body and gives me permission to sit, to relax, to reflect, and to enjoy every aspect of nature surrounding me.
Cone flowers and fall mums.

Clusters of color dance in the sun taking center stage while the greens act as backdrop.

Cloudy days shade the greens.
Red Sky Ranch GC with greens and shadows.

 Mountain greens seem grayer or bluer because of  the skies.

View of #2 from #6 tee box in June when the Yucca blooms.

Like Peter Rabbit's mother, I often need to feast my eyes on green. When not in the garden feasting I'm on the golf course meandering down the green fairways, but  I do love to putt...on those greens.

Fifty shades indeed, and that's not counting all of the shades and colors we miss every day.  This is my bouquet of green, so please treat your eyes and find another 50 shades of green that make you grin.
Purple iris of spring nested in the evergreen.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Golf Gypsy: As Only a Mother Can

My mother, Helen Stapp, died unexpectedly nearly twenty-four years ago, and yet I miss her hugs, smiles, and cryptic words of advice daily. We didn't always agree on life's journey or how to best pursue the future.  In our family Mom and Dad had their hands full with two hundred and fifty Miami Country Club members, and two little girls; one adventurous and daring, the other a quiet observer.  My little sister, Jonya, most closely stayed within their boundaries of comfort.  She was a beauty queen and State Amateur Golf Champion.  We both played on the men's golf team at NEO, and made our parents proud when we completed our college degrees (mine just took 10 years to finish.)

USGA Jr. Am. 1965
My childhood days of golf were intense and emotional.  Winning was not something I experienced.  I often missed qualifying for championship flight because of raw nerves, and lack of focus.  Every summer I asked for tennis lessons, swim lessons, diving lessons, anything new on the horizon.  Dad's words were simple, "Tizzy, you need to focus on one sport at a time.  Developing muscles for swimming or tennis might jeopardize your golf swing."  So, I played golf and practiced hours upon hours.  The solitude of practicing became my escape from pressures.

It was the trips to the Jr. State Amateur I loved the most.  Teeing off #1 at Southern Hills and hitting a straight and true shot down the middle is a memory I will carry for a lifetime.  Shaking the hand of a match play opponent at age 14 will also stick with my gut;  "Good luck," I said sincerely as Rita and I shook hands on the first tee.  "Thanks, you'll need it.!" She won the match on hole 14.  Maybe, Dad knew me better when he nicknamed me Tizzy or tried to explain that my golf game seemed lackadaisical.  Maybe, I overheard so many ugly comments by women in tournaments that I thought no one liked a champion?

It was on mother's shoulders that I cried and sobbed with defeat.  Year after year I lost, and yet she held firm in her belief that I could win.  Dad was the teacher, but mom was the counselor, the healer, and the one who uplifted me and told me over and over that I could win. I finally won a Club Championship once before she died, but I was nearly 40 years old.  My family and friends were proud.

Only recently did I realize how much a mother's love and faith in her children can make a difference for a lifetime of learning and growing.  Over the 50 years since my teenage golfing debut, I've learned that it was confidence that I was lacking, not skill.  But it's not enough to have other people believe in you when you don't believe in yourself.  "Oh, well," is such an easy reply to a disappointment in life, whether it is in a career or sport.

A few weeks ago as I walked to my golf cart, before I teed off at Prairie Dunes for the Hutchinson Women's City Championship, my heart was pounding and my stomach lurched.  It was a match play event, one on one.  Now I needed to win one more match for the championship.  I began to question myself.  Did I care enough to focus?  Did I really just want to win, but not fight through my nerves to win?  Will people still like me IF I win?

Helen Stapp probably giving advice.
Like a cloud passing over I heard a whisper, "Letty, I believe in you and always have. Now go out there and prove to yourself that you can play great golf."

My knees buckled and I looked around with tears in my eyes.  "Mom?" my head whispered.   "I'm watching," she replied, and I heard the pursing of her lips.  When her whispering cloud passed over, my shoulders suddenly lightened and memories were filtered.  I knew that somehow I could win that day, and maybe win again while I'm still young enough to compete.  On my golf ball, that day, I wrote these words, "Almost Heaven."

I only hope and pray that I've been that kind of mother for my daughter, one who believes in her child without a doubt--As only a mother can.