This article isn’t really about old men and dogs, but for some reason as I started typing I really liked the sound of that title. And it’s not really about old men either, since “old” is a relative term, and can mean something different for each of us. But for the sake of the article, lets go with men in their eighties, give or take a few years, whether they are dog lovers or not.
When we became part of the Paradise Valley community ten years ago, we were immediately welcomed and supported by a group of men who were daily fixtures at the course. They were – and still are today – known as “The Valley Boyz” (the z is an important part of their identity), and have been meeting regularly since the course originally opened. In fact, there is a small coil notebook – the type that fits into a shirt pocket – that lists the opening day for Paradise Valley every single year. And the Valley Boyz were there for it each time. Some of the original group have dropped off, new ones have joined, and a few of the originals still remain.
One of the things that has always intrigued me about this group, as with many who are in the later phases of their lives, is that they each had an entire lifetime of experiences before we ever met. The past ten years has been but a drop in the bucket for each of them, following long and varied careers, love found and lost, families, friends, travels, and stories that we would never have enough time to hear.
I knew the day would come when we would have to say goodbye to these men, one at a time, and have dreaded it for years as we all watch time slowly tick by. Several of them have been in and out of the hospital and have given us scares from time to time. I still remember the day we called the ambulance for Ches, as we thought he was having a heart attack on the front lawn. It ended up being dehydration and he was back golfing a few days later, but it was enough to send half the staff and customers alike into a frenzy.
And then there was the rumour several years ago which flew through the parking lot and across the golf course like a prairie wildfire, saying that Shorty had passed. A few quick phone calls and that one was squashed. Shorty wasn’t really part of the Valley Boys group, and yet he was part of what enticed them to the Valley more than 30 years ago. He was a ring leader of sorts, encouraging and supporting and witnessing their lives from the sidelines. And he really did love his dogs!
I am writing this in circles it seems, as it is difficult to actually get to my point. Over just the past few months we have lost Ches. And Shorty. And Chris. We have lost many of them now, and other customers over the years as well, all so dear to us and who remind us daily that Paradise Valley is so much more than a golf course. As new generations of golfers join us, our community evolves, new groups of friends are formed, new traditions are born.
But for now I want to recognize the Valley Boyz – all of them. To thank them for being a part of Paradise and a part of our lives personally. To thank them for making an impact on our family, on our staff, and on our community by sharing a little of themselves with each of us. We love you all dearly. To those who are no longer with us, may you rest in peace.
In no specific order: Frank, Ken, Ches, Pat, Spyrous, Jim, Chris, Bob, Gordon, Kent, Ron, Donald, Larry, Bill, Ernie, Otto .
And of course, Shorty. God Bless.