When we were in Myrtle we tended to smoke like we were "goin' to the chair." I don't know; there's just something about being on a golf holiday with your buddy that makes you want to spark one up. Gerry didn't smoke all the time. He essentially smoked 'em when he could get 'em. He was one of those guys who drove you crazy because he could just stop smoking any time he wanted. He wasn't addicted. He didn't have the smoker's gene like me. He just smoked when he figured it was called for; when it just seemed like the right thing to do. He tended to smoke OP's (Other People's), rarely if ever buying a pack. Maybe, in hindsight, that's how he stopped from getting hooked. He only smoked in company. Maybe that's a good rule: never smoke alone.
He may have preferred to smoke OP's, but Gerry was certainly no cheapskate. He was probably the most generous guy I ever met. We always fought over who would get to pay the bill any time we were out; and Gerry, being six foot five and over three hundred pounds, was not one to lose too many arguments. He would acquiesce and grudgingly allow me to pay my share, but he was always the first one to reach for the cheque.
Speaking of paying the cheque; the night before he left, Gerry announced that he was taking Kathryn and I out for dinner. I told him it was okay and that we could just stay home. I told him Kathryn would make us something. Gerry looked at Kathryn and said,"Okay, Kathryn let's go." We had a great feed at The Outback that night.
We had made several trips to Myrtle Beach over the years, either going to stay and golf with my father, who was a snowbird and stayed for the winter in Myrtle, or going with other friends for a quick mid winter road trip. I had no way of knowing that this trip was the last time we would golf in Myrtle Beach together, but somehow I guess I did.
We played our last round; as I write this I'm damned if I can remember where, but I think it was at Meadowlands. Gerry was leaving for the long haul back to snow country from the course. We said good bye and he, as usual, grinned and said, "Who loves Ya?"
I told the Big Man I loved him too and watched him drive away. I got in the car and, rather than turn the key, I found myself hanging on to the wheel and crying. I didn't know why I was crying, but I wasn't just crying, I was weeping. It made no sense. Sure, I was sad to see Gerry go, but we had had a great time and we had plans to retire and make lots more trips south in the future. But here I was, sitting in the car weeping.
I didn't know it at the time, but I was weeping for good reason. That was the last time I would ever play with the Big Man in Myrtle. I say that I didn't know it, but I guess maybe somehow I did. Life is sure strange. Somehow, sometimes you just know stuff and you don't even know you know it.