This is the final installment of a series. Catch up on it HERE.
By Terry Foster
By the time Don Muirhead reached the seventh hole at Raptor Bay Golf Club in Naples, Fla., he was spent. He knew this would be his last round of golf, but he did not tell his son Ryan until two weeks later.
Muirhead did not want to take his oxygen tank, but his sister Linda demanded that he did. It made the round more difficult, but it was the right decision.
“I just can’t do it anymore,” Muirhead said.
It was a sunny, low humidity day in the mid-70s. It was a perfect day for Muirhead as he played with his son Ryan and two friendly strangers who made the day more enjoyable. It was October of last year and his sister flew Ryan to Naples as a surprise.
ALS took away the game he loved. However, it did not take away Don’s love for family. Don was with one of his two sons. And that is all that mattered. After playing nine holes, father and son retreated to the house for beers and laughs.
“Geez I didn’t know it was the last round,” Ryan said. “We hit the turn and he said ‘that’s all I’ve got in me. We are going to call it a day. I didn’t think anything of it. He was ready to get home. He was gassed.”
That last round meant the world to Don Muirhead. So did Thanksgiving, Christmas and a weekend gathering a few days ago where his sister and sons Ryan and Robbie came to visit.
They talked, ate good food and even ran out to the movies, which is another passion for Muirhead.
It is likely to be the final time Don sees his sons and grandkids.
What is on your bucket list when you are dying?
Hawaii? The Canary Islands?READ MORE: Here's A Look At Weekend Construction Happening In Metro Detroit
He’s been offered a trip or an adventure. But his bucket list is simple. All Don wanted to do is spend time with family in Chicago, family in North Carolina and family in Michigan and Florida.
“I don’t want all that stuff,” Muirhead said. “I don’t need a bucket list. When you get to where I am family means the world to you. That’s all I need.”
In Michigan Don demanded that they go to a local theater and see “Revenant.” During Christmas, 7 -ear-old daughter Naryah clung to him the entire day. The family saw Star Wars and ate dinner in Naples. This was Don’s bucket list.
They were memories that brought smiles to Don’s face and gave him memories that comfort him as he watches The Golf Channel and old movies in his family room in West Bloomfield.
“It means more than going to the Canary Islands or anything like that,” Don said. “I guess you appreciate family a lot more when you get into my situation. What do you really want to do? It’s family.”
His family has rallied around him, making red T-shirts and sweat shirts to bring attention to ALS. His son Ryan talked about hosting a golf tournament to raise money for ALS research.
My idea is for people to host red toenail challenges. Don paints his toenails red with the slogan F#! ALS. It would be a great honor for him if you did the same.
Ryan kept a golf ball as a keepsake for the last round of golf. Nobody hit any memorable shots. It was just a memorable time for a father and son, just as it was a few days ago when the family got together at Don’s house.
“It was fun. It was great,” Ryan said. “He joked and was light-hearted and all that stuff. It was good but at the end it was bad because it was hard to say good bye. This will be the last time I see him. I can call but I said I won’t see you. But it was good to spend time with him.”
(Foster can be reached at Terry.Foster@cbsradio.com)MORE NEWS: FDA Approves Longer Shelf Life For J&J COVID-19 Vaccine
For more ideas on how to raise money for ALS go to ALS.org.