Thursday, September 19, 2019

My Purity of Essence Returns!

There is a scene in the movie, The Bucket List, where Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson are lying next to each other in their beds in the oncology ward reviewing what's on their respective bucket lists. I dreamed about doing many things during "the Troubles," and now that I am able, have decided to pursue my own bucket list, which includes many non-golf related items, and some additional golf pursuits. The odds of my cancer staying in remission are high if it doesn’t come back within the next year, so my timing is perfect. God willing, I will live a long and productive life. In not, there are no do overs, so my thought is that it's the perfect time to pursue my list with zeal. In the best case scenario I'll live to a ripe old age and my kids will have to work harder because I’ll blow through their inheritance!


Back in January I started to plan a trip to the British Isles in anticipation of getting better, with some new bucket list courses on the itinerary. At the time, it was a stretch and both “the wife” and my oncologist would roll their eyes when I told them what I wanted to do. Even as late as July it was touch and go, I was still having blood transfusions three times a month and the fatigue wasn’t flagging. I had faith and determination that I would go on my trip. Low and behold because of the wonder drug I took in August--Rituxan--my blood counts returned to normal, (specifically, my hemoglobin, which went above 14!!!), and with them my energy levels. I know, what other blog is so exciting that you can learn about medicine and your precious bodily fluids while reading about golf, but such is my plight. Stanley Kubrick and Sterling Hayden would be proud.

So it was that I was able to fly across the Atlantic on September 2nd, wearing my respirator mask and wiping every surface in sight down with disinfectant wipes. I must say that my routine was very effective at keeping people away from me in the airport, and the poor woman in the seat next to me on the plane was so frightened that I got all the elbow room between us on the seat divider.

As you know if you have been following my travails, I have had world-class care and my medical team has patched me up and brought me to a good place. The body is healing and I continue to make great progress every day. It was in Scotland that my spirit was restored as well. Even though I am of Italian-Irish heritage, my spiritual homeland is Scotland. I find every minute on Scottish soil invigorating and just love everything about the country, especially the people, the scenery and the language and accents. We just don’t have teahouses, filled rolls, Sunday roasts, brambles, and rolling hills punctuated with old stone walls in New Jersey. It was in the Kingdom of Fife that my soul was renourished and my mindset shifted from that of a patient to that of a hopeful survivor.

My home base in Scotland, the former home of the Duke of Fife, built in 1596

I also love to drive on the opposite side of the road and through roundabouts. It was on a beautiful morning when I was driving from our base in St. Andrews to our round at Kingsbarns that the pall of my troubles lifted. Mozart was playing gently on the car radio, I was with my good friends and we are rolling through striking countryside dotted with bales of hay glistening in the humidity-free, crisp air. It was magic and I could feel the weight of a year and a half of stress lifting. It was good to be home. 

back road

Our round at Kingsbarns, one of my favorite courses, was rejuvenating. I had an Italian caddie, Romano, and he and I were simpatico. My soul mate and I were in synch on everything, and this Renaissance man was born to read putts. As a result, I had the best round of golf I played in at least 10 years as we shared stories of our favorites foods, regions of Italy, and golf courses. Since being sick I have set my intention every morning when I wake up to embrace life to the fullest, living large and appreciating everything I have been blessed with. La dolce vita!

 1st green
The opening hole at Kingsbarns

I will be posting a half dozen or so new posts over the coming months highlighting new courses, including two English beauties that are among the best I have ever played.