Friends are the Family You Choose

Once upon a time I thought that saying was a bit clich√©…but as I get older, more & more it becomes obvious how much that rings true.

Last night we invited anyone who was in the GR area to stop by Putt-Putts Bar to celebrate Tom’s finish in qualifying. I did so by making a post on Facebook and sending a couple text messages to people I knew weren’t on Facebook. I figured maybe 15-20 of our usual crew would show up. I asked our friends who work there if we could reserve a couple tables in back…which they were kind enough to do for us. Putts is not a large bar. Inside there are 5 rectangle tables that seat between 12-16 and 2 large round tables that seat between 10-12…as well as seating at the bar and another little table that seats 2. We arrived around 5pm and I think by 8pm or so we occupied at least 1/2 of the entire bar! I didn’t count, but I’d have to guess between 40-50 people were there at any given time. The people who weren’t there for our party were pissed because we took up so much of the bar that getting to the bathrooms was nearly impossible! I think I sat down for 15 minutes total between 5-11pm! Tom & I had to leave around 11:30pm because neither of us had eaten dinner & we both could hardly speak anymore! It was overwhelming to say the least. The number of people who showed up just to say “hi” and have a drink & congratulate Tom…was simply amazing! There were 4 people from Toms former job at Gill Tool & Die that showed up that he literally hadn’t seen in almost 17 years! We saw several former fellow Highlands members as well as quite a few current fellow Sunnybrook members. All 3 of Tom’s bosses showed up along with a couple co-workers! It was so much fun!! I tried so hard to thank everyone who came, as did Tom. I sincerely hope we made it to see everyone at least to do that. It meant SO MUCH to us to see people we care so much for!

So now to make clear something I tried to convey last night every chance I got: so many people said to me, “Thank you for writing the blogs! It made it feel like we were there with you”. Truth be told…these blogs and Facebook posts make it feel like you all are here with us – wherever we may be. It can be kind of lonely when you’re traveling & you don’t see too many people you know. Sure we had each other and Mike was with us, but we’re very used to knowing everyone (or practically everyone) Tom plays against…and even the officials who run the tournaments. Professional golf is a whole new world. Not only do we not know any officials, most of the players don’t want us there! And the more they see Tom play, the less they’ll want us there, I promise you that!

When I write these blogs…people respond in a positive way; to me or to Tom. When I post on his Facebook page, people comment or like the post…and it transports us right back home, to our safe place, to our family. It means more to us than it does to you, please believe that. I don’t do this just to keep people in the loop…I do this because the feedback helps me deal with the stress and it takes us home – regardless of where we may be.

At one point during the evening, someone asked me what was next for Tom & what was our plan. Obviously it’s difficult to practice & stay competitive when there’s that crappy white stuff covering the ground. That means that as Tom goes further along on this journey, the likelihood of his having to spend more & more time down South becomes inevitable. I was asked, “Well this will still be your home base, right? You’ll come home here?” It was a hard question to hear because Grand Rapids is home. There is no other place we could call our “home base”. Our family is here…those friends we call “family”, the ones we chose to take on our journey with us, the ones who, no matter what, have always been there to hold us up (and in a lot of cases, keep us grounded). Tom’s buddies do an amazing job of making sure Tom understands that he’s nothing without them – they think it’s funny – he knows it’s true (he just can’t tell them that). Grand Rapids will always be our home base – the dilemma will be – how do we maintain 2 lives; one here in Grand Rapids for 3 seasons and one down South for the Winter season? That’s the hard part and something we’ll have to carefully plan…but there’s no sense in doing that unless it truly becomes a necessity. Time will tell…and at some point I hope to write a blog about the whole emotional portion of the journey that I’ve not yet allowed to become a part of my writing – the intensely personal part that no-one gets to see and certainly isn’t talked about. Suffice to say that the words to Bruce Springsteen’s song Rosalita keep playing in my head, “someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny”.

So to all of you who were able to be with us last night…thank you so much! You really have no idea how much it meant to have you there.

To all of those who wanted to come but couldn’t be there (for whatever reason), know that you were missed. Also know that your support is no less important to us.

If I’ve said it one hundred times it still isn’t enough…Tom wouldn’t have made it this far without the love & support of our friends. Our family we got to choose.

Here are some pictures from last night…some I took and some that were taken for me, because I made the mistake of leaving my phone on a table while I was visiting…I’m fairly certain you’ll know which ones they are!

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