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Dust to dust

The boys had just returned from a round of golf and were sitting around their regular table at the place where they stop for their usual after-golf beverages, coffee and Coca-Cola. They were dusting off their second pot of coffee and third pitcher of coke. It was happy hour, and the golfers were having a good time. Each one was a comedian.

"Hey, what's the dust on the table?" puzzled the 20 handicap golfer as he ran his finger across the dusty surface.

His golf partner answered that question.

"Those are probably the ashes of our old bartender, who died last week. He just couldn't stay away from this dump."

Everyone roared. And that got it started.

The duffer with his black Ping cap on backwards had the next comment. "When I'm gone, I'm going to have my caddie come to the course after dark some night and dump my ashes in the sand trap on the left side of the sixth green. It seems like I've spent half my life in that trap and I might just as well settle in for the long haul." Applause and laughter.

Next, the guy still wearing his yellow golf shoes spoke up. "When I was young I was an athlete. I played some really good baseball and I miss the game. I'm going to have my ashes spread on home plate at the ball park and every time the umpire whisks the dust off that plate, I'll be part of the action all over again." Cheers.

"Baseball is easy compared to what I used to do," piped up the golfer with the striped shorts and the plaid golf shirt. "I was a first class athlete, a runner in track. I ran the quarter mile in record time on a cinder track. We ran on packed cinders in those days. When they changed to Tartan rubberized tracks, smoother and faster by far, all the old records were broken. I'm going to leave instructions to turn off the burners while my remains are still cinders, before they get to be dust or ashes, then have my cinders spread on a Tartan running track to give the runners today that feel of real cinders." No more cheers. These guys were getting into a sobering conversation. Mostly, they were quietly nodding their heads.

The big fellow with a bulldog on the front of his golf shirt spoke next. "I was an athlete too -- played offensive tackle on the university football team. I'm donating my ashes to the football team."

"What in the world would a football team possibly do with your ashes?"

"When I played I had to keep those big defensive tackles from getting at my quarterback, so I'd start the first series of the game by throwing a handful of dirt in their eyes. That usually kept them away for a half. I'm donating my ashes for that first handful. I'd love to be in the face of a defensive tackle one more time."

"That's very generous. And what did the guy with the face full of dirt do in the second half?"

"He seriously injured me and I had to sit out the rest of the game. But it was worth it -- I sacrificed myself for the university and I'll do it again."

The last golfer to comment wore a black shirt and a black cap. He was by far the most serious of the lot. "I would never allow myself to be cremated."

"Why not?"

"I don't trust my wife. She thinks I've been a rotten husband -- too much golf, not enough family life, you know, that routine. Do you remember the movie where the sister who had been abused by her brother when they were kids got her hands on his ashes when he died years later? She dumped the ashes down an outdoor toilet, then sat down right on the spot and paid her last respects to the departed brother. I wouldn't ever want that to happen to me. No, I'm going to be resting safely in a steel box where nobody can get at me."

With that they dropped the subject of ashes, the conversation ground to a halt and they all went home. There are two morals to the story. The first is in defense of golfers. Even though golf is not an athletic event, some golfers actually were athletes at one time. The second is that we ought to show more respect for dust, ashes and cinders. Some may come from the fertile fields of North Dakota and Minnesota, some may be from a late bartender and some may come from a golfer who missed his last putt.