I grew up in a military family. My mom and dad have served for a combined total of 49 years in the Army. Being a military kid wasn’t a big deal at first but there is one date, September 11, 2001, that changed many peoples’ lives, as well as mine forever. It was when I became a child of a wartime family instead of a peacetime family. In 2003 my family got the call that my dad would be deploying to Afghanistan to fight the war on terror. He was gone for two years. As a 5 year old I didn’t know what was going on but I knew everything would be different. Even with this crisis there was good to be found.
My grandfather, who I called Seanathair–Gaelic for Old Father, asked my mom to come to his house for the summer.
We had a lot of fun and he filled our days with many activities. He bought me a set of golf clubs and when he saw me swing he knew that he had to get me lessons right away. This was the start of an amazing relationship with him; we continued going to his house every summer and eventually my sister and I started going by ourselves. I would golf with him every day. He would give me pointers about my game and teach me about golf etiquette while giving me advice not only about golf but about life. He taught me to have integrity and to always be a kind and considerate golfer. When I started playing tournaments he would take me to every event. When I would do something well he’d cheer and if I did something bad he’d sigh. Afterwards we’d talk about what I did well and where I could improve. He always said he was proud of me and remind me that hard work pays off. We spent many hours in the car going to tournaments during our summers and he’d tell me about his past. One of his favorite stories was when he was a kid and he got in a fight and ran home because he was losing. When he told his grandfather what happened, his grandfather told him to suck it up and go and try again and my Seanthair did. What I learned is that when things aren’t going your way, never give up, you can always learn something in a difficult situation, and to never be afraid of my opponent.
He’d tell me about rocks and oil wells because he was both a geologist and an oil man; he would explain why the rocks were a certain way and how the oil wells work. Even if I had already heard it before, I would sit in the car as a little kid memorizing everything he would say because I looked up to him. As I would sit and listen I would learn about what type of man he was and as I got older I realized that his storytelling was his way of teaching me life lessons. He would joke that I wasn’t really listening but I was! Over the years my Seanathair’s heart began to fail and in April he had open heart surgery. In May, I returned to Ohio for the Joe Haase Cup, with my mom and Coach Mike as my caddie. When we got there I heard that my Seanathair was sick and that he would have to miss the tournament. I played and we won. Afterwards, my mom told me that we needed to get to the hospital right away and that’s when I knew it was bad. I went to his room and I saw him lying there looking very old and tired. A man that I had known as smart and who always loved to talk was lying there barely able to speak. I told him about the tournament. I also told him that I was okay with him going and that I was going to make him proud. That it is when he started talking and telling me to “Go and play the game!”
I knew he was talking about more than golf; he was talking about life. I told him I knew I had already made him proud as a golfer because he always told me even when I played poorly. But I knew I still had to make him proud of the man I will become and I know I have a long way to go. He told me he loved me and that he was tired and to go back to school. I went back because I knew this is what he would want. He always told me when he died I got only one day to cry and I should go on with my life because he had enjoyed a full life. I said goodbye and the next day, Monday May 11 while I was flying back to school, the man I hope to be like one day, passed away.
I was lucky enough to have 18 years with my Seanathair and I know that I will carry all his advice with me for the rest of my life. Thank you Mom and Dad for everything you’ve done, Caelin I know that I bug you a lot but I am your brother and know that I will always be there for you. And thank you Seanathair for being the most inspirational man in my life. I love you all!
-Shane Hoben ’16