His father’s last words strengthen his game — both on the turf and in life.
“For the longest time, I lived my life scared just seeing what he went through,” remembers golfer Sam Bennett. At age 23, he’s a rising star in amateur golf. He held back because he was afraid of the next step.
That’s because, in June 2021, Sam’s father lost his battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s, is characterized by gradual memory loss leading to the inability to accomplish daily tasks. The disease attacks the parts of the brain that control memory, language, and thought.
Scientists are still puzzled by the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association describes it as a disease that prevents parts of cells from doing their tasks properly. “Backups and breakdowns in one system cause problems in other areas,” they note. “As damage spreads, cells lose their ability to do their jobs and, eventually, die, causing irreversible changes in the brain.”
The connections between the body and the brain also fail. The brain shrinks significantly, causing someone with Alzheimer’s Disease to lose many functions and abilities. Near the end of his long battle, Sam’s father forgot how to write.
The Last Advice One Man Gave to His Son
Mark Bennett was diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 43. Over ten years, the disease slowly progressed until Mark Bennett died at age 53. Sam and his mother talked outside one day when Mark woke up from a nap. As Sam’s mother, Stacey Bennett, recalls, they went into the house where Mark abruptly said: “Don’t wait to do something.”
Sam and Stacey didn’t know what to say. “It was just out of the blue,” Stacey said, a surprising moment of clarity. “It was a moment for all of us.” Sam wanted to remember it forever, so he asked his dad to write it down.
Stacey Bennett sat her husband down and taught him to write. Mark Bennett had forgotten. Mark wrote the message with a shaky, letter-by-letter hand. He spent about 20 minutes on it. Sam then took the paper and the script to a tattoo parlor in his locality.
How One Man’s Advice Helped His Son Battle Fear
Years later, after his father’s death, those last words written by Mark Bennett are more important to the young athlete than ever. He’s the third-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, playing in Masters Tournaments, with a promising career ahead of him.
And yet, as he recalls his childhood in Madisonville, Texas, he remembers he “never had a lesson.” For him the game was “strictly how fast you can get the ball in the hole.” His father’s words remind him that, despite those humble beginnings, he’s worthy. He can do it.
“That just means don’t be scared of anything you do,” Sam said, referring to the tattooed words on his arm. “My dad didn’t care what I shot, just respected the game.”
Sam’s father never got to see his rise to the height of his current golf game, but Sam’s adamant that his father is watching over him as he brings home trophy after trophy. “He’d think all this stuff is pretty dang cool,” he says with a smile.
Sam’s coach at Texas A&M, Brian Kortan, agrees that Mark Bennett’s last written words have had a tremendous impact on Sam. “The maturation process really came down to him understanding that he could do this without his dad,” Kortan said, “that he still had more to give, more that he wanted to do for himself. The message on his forearm talks about get to doing it and to chase something that’s right in front of you. It relates perfectly to being intentional and not shying away from what you’re really trying to do.”
How a Man’s Last Words Are Keeping His Memory Alive
The death of his father utterly shook Sam’s family. It was hard to move forward. The young man’s life was saved by the last message, which he had heard in an instant of clarity, and then painstakingly recorded.
Sam wanted it to last for the rest of his life. Having it tattooed means he will repeat the words daily in his head.
It means that when he’s out on the green getting ready to swing that club, his father’s words wrap around him like a warm hug. From one of his father’s last moments of clarity, Sam gathers the strength to focus and to make his dad proud.
Share or comment on this article
Leave a Reply