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Three ways I let down Dad

By |  October 22, 2014 0 Comments

With apologies to guys like Mark Woodward, Matt Neff and Noah Gessler, my favorite person in this issue is Cammie Henkel (here). Because she did what I did not.

It’s been five years since I lost my dad to brain cancer. I already wrote him a tribute (“A medal for Boyd,” November 2011) so I won’t retell that sad story. Instead, I thought I’d try to write something useful, and tell you some mistakes I made when my father fell ill. So don’t you repeat my stupid mistakes.

Advocate for your loved one. After you read this month’s cover story, you’ll fully understand why I write that Cammie Henkel is the hero of this issue.

I remember when I saw my dad stumble in my sister’s house. I asked him what was wrong, and he told me he just had a headache from the long drive. I told him I was concerned, but I let him be.

I remember the doctors misdiagnosing my dad again and again. By the time they finally gave him a CT scan, his brain tumor was already a death sentence. He lived only another six weeks.

I thought the doctors were as concerned about my dad’s health as I was. Why not give a seemingly healthy 62-year-old man with migraines and dizziness a CT scan? Shouldn’t that be some type of standard operating procedure?

I still have anger with the way my father’s illness was handled, but in hindsight, some of the blame is on me. As his only son, I didn’t advocate enough for my dad… I didn’t do what Cammie Henkel did… and I believe by not standing up for him, I had a hand in his untimely death.

Ask the question, “What if I get hit by a bus?” Would your family know your wishes, your business, if you got hit by a bus when you left the house for work today? Would they know about your life insurance policies? About the money you have in the bank?

My dad and I never had that talk. Sorry, Dad.

He didn’t get hit by a bus, but during his illness, he was in a constant haze. I will never be able to forget him asking me, “Is this real?” after he woke up from surgery. The smartest man I ever knew.

Make sure you have that “In the event I/you get hit by a bus” conversation with the people you need to, because you just never know.

Realize that it’s not just a football game. From 2006 to 2009 my dad and I had season tickets for Kansas Jayhawks football. We didn’t make every game, but we made most. And the ’Hawks were actually good back then, winning the Orange Bowl in 2008.

I remember how angry we were when Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree hung 56 on us. And I remember playing pool with him before the K-State game at Rick’s, my favorite bar just north of the stadium, when we beat the Wildcats 52-12.

I remember the first game I went to after he passed, and crying behind my sunglasses as the ball was kicked off, not wanting my daughter, who was sitting in his seat, to see my tears.

I no longer have season tickets, but I do take my daughter to a game every season. (Shockingly, she’s never seen the Jayhawks lose in person.) Only since Dad passed do I now understand that the score of the game is irrelevant. What’s important is that time spent with a loved one, creating memories of being together, and just enjoying each other’s company.

But at least this last one, I’m able to get right now.

This article is tagged with and posted in Columns, People

About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 18-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at

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