Closest to Mike


In a place called Carcross, Yukon – a few miles down the highway from Skagway, Alaska, there is an attraction the town and guidebooks advertise as the world’s smallest desert. It’s not really a desert they admit in a technicality, but they leave the confession to the small print at the bottom of a big sign. We play golf there with Mike. The game is called “Closest to Mike.” Our Saturday morning foursome is re-united.

At the side of the road, we dig into the hold of the RV for golf balls and clubs.  I run Mike’s urn up to the top of a weedy knoll.  Standing 40 yards away, we hold an impromptu contest in which the guy closest to hitting the urn with his golf shot becomes the winner.  Jim and I almost hit Mike squarely.  For the most part, we miss wildly.

Dan’s shots are pitiful. The balls travel a few yards from where they’re struck, plopping down deep in the kitty litter, where they become hardly visible. Jim and I can sense that he’s frustrated. The people around us can hear him cuss. He keeps trying to do better. But he can’t.

A woman looks at us inquisitively.  When she realizes what it is that we’re doing, she doesn’t know what to say.  We explain that Mike died a year ago and he was traveling with us to the Arctic. She doesn’t know what to make of it. Nothing I say explains why we’ve used him as a target.  Unless you knew Mike alive, you’d think he would have hated the way we treat him.  You’d be wrong. He would have loved it.

Before leaving, we hoist him up on a sign that identifies the Carcross Desert as the place where we played. We rest our chins eye-level with him on a cross-bar and have a camera crew member snap a photo. I should tell you that Mike has a new look.  He developed a slight blemish which Dan covered with duct tape. The amount of tape he uses far exceeds what is needed.  But Mike looks cool in his new wardrobe.

Tomorrow, Mike will need his screws tightened – the base of his box is getting loose.  I can promise you however, it will be a sad day in heaven when he has to go back in Cheri’s closet.  Despite the bumps and bruises, he is living the life.