"Jimmy Dunne, God bless him, he was in there in the rubble with us," the father told Fazio. Dunne's firm had 125 employees on the 104th floor. Half of them were missing. More than a few were serious golfers, or the sons of serious golfers. Dunne is a serious golfer. He wasn't in the office on that horrid Tuesday morning because he was attempting to qualify for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, a lifelong dream for him.
The conversation with Fazio came to a close. "They can rip off your arms and legs, Tom, you just don't want them taking your children," Davis Sr. told him. "I love you, Tom Fazio. Give Sue and your kids a big hug from me."
Deeg once got his handicap down to four. Every third year, on a midsummer weekend, he'd play in the two-day Father-Son tournament at Pine Valley. One year the Seznas were in contention as they stood on the 16th tee in the second round. The format was alternate shot. One generation hits a shot, then the other generation plays the next. The son hooked his drive. The father needed to hit a big sweeping hook to reach the green, which is bordered by a water hazard on the right.
"Why don't you punch a safe one down in front, I'll chip up, and you'll make the putt for par," the son said.
"Nah, I can hook a five-iron on," the father said.
The five-iron shot didn't hook a bit. As it was heading for the water, Deeg said, "How old do I have to be before you'll start listening to me?" He was 15. From that double bogey on, his father listened.
Last Thursday, Davis Sr. was showing a friend a picture of his favorite foursome. Three boys and their father, all in shorts and polo shirts and smiles, standing on the 14th tee at Seminole, in North Palm Beach, Fla., the Atlantic Ocean behind them, nothing but years of golf in front of them. The father was on the far right, looking proud. He started to identify his boys. "That's Willie next to me," said Davis Sr. "He's a senior in high school, plays to a three [handicap]. That's Deeg on the left. Between them, that's...."
The name never came out. The boy was Teddy, the youngest child of Gail and Davis Sezna. He died last year, at age 15, on the first Saturday in July in an early-morning boating accident. The father and son were cruising in a 30-foot motorboat when they ran into a steel light pole. It took two hours for rescuers to find Teddy's body. It took seven hours to get everyone through the receiving line.
Last Saturday the father was back in Manhattan, searching for signs of his namesake in hope's final at bat. Somehow the father found the courage, wisdom and grace to say, "I live for tomorrow. I'm inspired by tomorrow. There will always be tomorrow."
Willie Sezna now has a standing offer to join his father, every summer, in the Pine Valley Father-Son. They'll play in Deeg's memory. They'll play in Teddy's memory. They'll play until the day comes when they can play no more. When that day will be, no one can say. The Seznas know that far too well.