Monday, July 25, 2011

Mary Burton, The Golfing Granny

Life with McDuff: Lessons Learned from a Therapy Dog isn’t the book I was going to write. It just got into my head and refused to leave until I told the story of my journey with a mystical, stubborn, and hilarious Scottish terrier therapy dog. The book I intend to write is about my grandmother, Mary Burton, The Golfing Granny, and the other exceptional women on the maternal side of my family.

At the age of 47, my grandmother sat patiently waiting for her husband to get home from the golf course. Determined not to spend another day as a “golf widow,” a bag of new golf clubs sat by her side. When my grandfather saw her seriousness and determination to learn how to play the game, he set out to teach her all he knew about golf. One problem though. She was a south paw, a lefty. No problem at all. She learned how to play golf right-handed.

Mary Burton won more than 150 trophies during her 29-year career playing against much younger opponents. She was featured in her home town newspaper, Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun, and newspapers across the mid-west United States numerous times and recognized as the Most Honored Golferette of 1960 by the Mid-West District of the UGA (United Golf Association). My grandmother was inducted posthumously into African-Americans in Golf Hall of Fame at the MGM Grand Conference Center on August 9, 2001, in Las Vegas, Nevada. She won her last golf trophy at the Raymond Memorial Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio, at the ripe age of 76.

Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, and Althea Gibson, first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour in 1964 and Wimbledon tennis champion, are names you may or may not recognize, but they knew and respected Mary Burton’s prowess on the golf course. She would have been proud of Tiger Woods before his fall from grace. And, he should be proud of her, a true pioneer, and my beloved Golfing Granny.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Therapy Dog McDuff's Life Lesson: Be a Party Animal

In Life with McDuff: Lessons Learned from a Therapy Dog, I write about the life lessons McDuff taught me during our nine year journey. Even though McDuff was a dedicated, hard-working therapy dog, he was a party animal, too. He loved being around a crowd, especially during holidays when he got the chance to attend parties.

McDuff was invited to the office Christmas party at a home in upscale Dublin, Ohio. I tried to get out of taking him, but my boss insisted because he’d heard so much about him. After cutting back on McDuff’s water intake during the afternoon and making sure he had “relieved” himself, we set out. I didn’t want the embarrassment of a pee or dog-turd stained oriental carpet on my head.

Making sure McDuff stayed close by my side, I enjoyed chatting with my colleagues. But during the course of the evening festivities, I lost sight of him. “Where’s McDuff!” I exclaimed when I noticed him missing. “He’s out here with me,” a voice from the kitchen answered. “He’s so cute. He drank three big bowls of water, and do you know what he did?” Oh, no! the voice in my head screeched. I knew it! I knew it! You should have left him at home. With a dry mouth, I croaked, “What did he do?”

“He followed someone out onto the patio, went down the stairs to the yard, peed, and then came back into the house. He’s amazing!” Everyone praised him, and he became the life of the party.

The life lesson we can learn from McDuff is this. We may have books and blogs to write, pictures to paint, or photos to take, but balance work with play. Make time to exercise your mind and body every day. Enjoy your family, friends, and the special occasions in life. Be a party animal — like McDuff.