Finally, I can get back to being dad and husband. I can write and read and do so many other things that I enjoy doing in my distraction-free world. I mean this whole decision has been paralyzing; should I or should I not forgive Tiger Woods. After spending several sleepless weeks wondering if Tiger even planned to give me an apology at all, word finally came that he planned to give me my "I'm sorry" in front of the whole world this past Friday.
He gave me several days advanced notice, giving me time to determine what kind of apology I would accept. It gave me time to think about the kind of clothes I wanted him to wear, how detailed I wanted him to get about his transgressions, and whether or not I wanted him to cry. I even started wondering whether I wanted him to read his apology off of a written statement to make sure he got it just right, or simply look me in the eye and wing it.
Finally, I had to determine whether or not I wanted his wife, Elin, there when he apologized. It would offer some validity to the process, but if she was present, it might appear the apology was directed more to her than me. And this was my day. She's had her chance to get an apology, today I wanted mine.
Then came Friday and all pre-game analysis became irrelevant. It was apology time. And I assure you, the apology turned out to be nothing like I expected.
Oh, things started well. He took responsibility. This was quite unlike the apologies of a thousand celebrities before him who always manage to find a way to apologize for something that everyone else in the world made them do. (Most recently, Mark McGuire being forced to take steroids because of a curse that landed his playing career smack dab in the middle of the steroid era).
Tiger went on to acknowledged the evils that follow money and fame and fortune. He admitted his weakness standing up to those evils. Again, refreshing. You mean the devil didn't force you do it, but instead talked you into it. Very little talking at that it would seem. This was going so well.
He apologized to parents who have kids that look up to him. I was a little disappointed he didn't mention me by name here, but I knew he was talking to me. This is where I thought he would really get into trying to make amends with me. This is where he would let the whole world know he had destroyed my life and he would spend every waking hour going forward making up for it. But that was it. Just a generic apology to generic parents. So impersonable. And then he did the unthinkable. He took my hand and walked me zillions of miles back into the real world. The world where we all live contrary to what we allow ourselves to believe. And when we got there, he hugged him mom.
His mom. She was sitting right there in the front row listening to the whole thing. How hard that must have been. Because in her world, Tiger was still a son. Not a scorned public figure, but a son and father of her grandchildren. And I suddenly realized I couldn't possibly drum up the disappointment in Tiger that she must have felt. Nobody could, save maybe his wife. But there she was, in the front row. And when he went to her, she hugged him.
I realized then I hadn't been dismissed by a role model, but more pointed in the direction of the right one. She looked an awful lot like two I already have - my parents. Parents like Tiger's mom, who through every mistake, still sat in the front row. Even at times when they probably wished they were on some deserted island with Elin looking for their sanity, they were there in the front row. They were there painfully doing what good parents do, guiding and supporting their children through an imperfect world. They taught their children how to deal with mistakes; not foolishly convince them mistakes could somehow be avoided.
I'd like to finish my thoughts by getting something straight on this who role model thing. There were plenty of "negative role-models" in the picture when I was growing up. My parents were very quick to point out that those were not my role models. That's right. They chose my role models for me. Some folks call that strict. I just call it parenting. So I guess if Tiger's sudden lack of regard for his marriage and his children leaves any lasting negative impact on the family unit in this country outside of his own, I would suggest pointing the finger in the direction of another press conference.
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