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Kelly Etlinger: Send Dad To Augusta

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This entry is part of a contest by HuffPost Books and The Buried Life. Click here to read more about it.

Five years ago I almost lost my Dad to a massive heart attack. At the time I was 23 living in Washington, DC, 3 hours from my parents. I got a call at 4:45 (no one ever wants a phone call that early) from my Mom saying, "Kelly, I need you to come home, Daddy had a heart attack and is going into open-heart surgery in 2 hours." My heart dropped, and I fell to the ground. I knew that if he didn't make it (chances were high) that I would never see my father again. With everything I had, I packed a quick bag, (all white shirts and black bras) and ran the 7 blocks to Union Station. I had a 5:30AM train that would get to to Metro Park, NJ by 8:45AM... still not reaching the hospital until 9:15AM. I would not get to see my Dad before he went in.

I had 3 hours to think about everything he would miss. Me getting married (well one day..), he would never get to see my siblings get married, I would not be able to take him to The White House for Christmas next year, he would miss too much, I would miss too much. Thankfully around 10:45AM the surgeon came out and said he did well and was in recovery. I will never forget walking into Cardiac Recovery seeing him full of color all hooked up to machines (10 years earlier I lost my Grandmother to a massive heart attack and he recovery bed was in that same spot). He smiled with his little bald head and took a piece of paper and wrote "Miss Kelly, what are you doing here?" - I just laughed and hit his leg. Then he decided that charades was a better way to communicate and some how we guessed "Walk the dogs"... another laugh and I knew my Dad was OK.


Mine is not my thing to do but more my father. As we watched the Master Golf this weekend we were talking about how you get tickets and how much he would like to go. Send my Dad and I to Augusta to walk the grounds. He doesn't even need to play (as I know this is hard to do) he just wants to walk it.

I am 28 years old now and closer than ever with my Dad. We play Jeopardy any time we can, as well as endlessly search Ancestry.com to try and complete our family tree. So this is his dream and seeing one of his come true is one of mine because we were so close to not having this moment to send this e-mail.