It was a nice drive to Snohomish. It was, as I had thought it would be, a little emotional. Just about the same time that I began to think about the great golf I had experienced with Dad at Snohomish Golf Course, I had heard the muffled sniffles from the back seat. (Mom was in back.) I let her be for a few minutes, thought a bit more about Dad and finally asked Mm if she was doing OK.
She answered honestly and said no. She then told me about Dad playing all the time at Snohomish, how he had volunteered at the course for the Men’s Club and how awful he felt when the Men’s Club voted to remove him from the board of directors and forced him to withdraw from the Men’s Club event after he turned professional. He was unable to play with his normal foursome and lost one of the things he valued most, his time with other golfers.
Mom also told me there were several things that made him happy, one was when I decided to take up golf again about ten years ago after not playing for about twenty years. I do not remember many times playing after high school but Mom assured me I did play.
Some of the best times with Dad were fishing, camping in the trailer and golfing. Mom reminded me that after Dad decided to stop drinking he also stopped going fishing. He loved fishing and loved associating with the fly fishing crowd and even served as the president of the Washington Fly Fishing Association. But when he went fishing and camping with the people he knew at the WFFA he also drank.
Dad discovered that drinking was bad for him and our family and he decided he would golf more…… he loved going to the course — he became president of the Inglewood Golf and Country Club in Kenmore, WA and, even though there was a lot of drinking at the club he found a way to golf and stay away. Mom said he would drive up to the course, park away from the club, put his shoes on and carry his clubs to the range or the practice green. He stayed away from the places where he felt he would fail and start drinking again. He always wanted to succeed at everything he did.
In October, 1958 he was supervised by an officer on the USS Ulvert M Moore — Dad’s first ship and the Lt jg wrote:
It is partially in appreciation of his extremely fine work and partially a desire to bring attention to an outstanding individual that I write this recommendation.
He went on to say:
Challender possesses the talents which make him a leader of men and specifically, which have made him a successful leading petty officer…… Challender is, in my opinion, a potentially fine officer. He has claim to all the adjectives which are used to describe the Naval Officer at his best. The Navy will benefit when he receives his commission. I hope that steps in that direction will be taken as soon as possible.
Without knowing it Dad was showing me how to be a man, how to volunteer, how to do the best job possible and finally how to be an “outstanding individual.”
Now, before anyone points out my flaws let me say I know I have flaws. We all have flaws. Dad had flaws. It is how we try and overcome those flaws that we become better people. I try and overcome my flaws and I try to be a better person today than I was yesterday.
Dad overcame many of his flaws yet still had many flaws that more life may have helped him overcome. Dad told me in March that “dying of cancer sucks.” He also told me he was proud of me.
What more could a son ask of his Dad?