I can still hear the soft Southern winds in the live oak trees
Hank and Tennessee
I guess we're all gonna be what we're gonna be
So what do you do with good ole boys like me
I knew little about Bubba Watson before he won the Masters Golf Tournament. From the name, I expected a beer drinking, John Daly wanna be.
I was dead wrong.
I found he was a southern gentleman who teared up when he talked about his wife and daughter.
Like me, Bubba is a left-handed golfer. Although five of the last ten Masters champions have been left-handed, no left-hander had ever won that prestigious tournament before Mike Weir did it in 2003. Bob Charles was the first and only lefty to win a major (the British Open) until Weir and Phil Mickelson broke the barrier at the Masters.
More important than his major win on Sunday, Bubba just adopted a son a couple of weeks ago. I adopted both of my daughters -- the best thing I ever did in my life.
I suspect that if you ask Bubba what was more important, the Masters or the adoption, he is going to correctly answer the adoption.
I know adoption of my daughters is at the top of my highlight reel.
It seems that parents who adopt their children have a special connection. Many years ago, I was on the board of the National Structured Settlement Trade Association. Our industry needed a piece of legislation to pass a committee in Congress and the swing vote was Republican Congressman Ron Lewis of Kentucky.
There was absolutely no reason for Ron Lewis and me to connect. At that point in my life, I was an extremely active Democrat who had supported two of his opponents, Joe Prather and Dave Atkinson. I had also supported Bill Clinton, whom the Congressman did not favor.
My ten-minute meeting was set up by my college intern, who had a vague connection through College Republicans.
I could see the meeting wasn't going well. Lewis was ready to ship me off when he mentioned his adopted daughters. I told him that I had adopted daughters. We wound up talking for 30 minutes about our children. At the end, he finally got back to the legislation. He asked me how Jim Bunning, who had just moved from Congress to the Senate, had voted. I told him Bunning favored our bill. Lewis said, "If it is good enough for Jim Bunning, it is good enough for me."
Ron Lewis never got a serious opponent after that, but if he had, I would have supported him despite our huge differences in political philosophy. He was in my unique fraternity of adoptive dads.
Just like Bubba Watson.
In a society where many biological dads aren't stepping up to the plate like they should, we need to honor adoptive dads like Bubba.
My grandmother, mother and sister were all single mothers at some point in their lives. Of the men who "helped" them become mothers, my father was the only one who remained in their families' lives. The others split town.
Dad saw us every week, never missed a child support payment, called us every day and was an integral part of our lives. He was a great stepfather for my stepsister. It wasn't something he bragged about, it was just something he was supposed to do.
Being an adoptive child can be a stigma for some. I don't think it was for my children since I had been their stepfather first and later adopted them when they were older. We work together in the businesses I founded and I think I am a good role model. My dad taught me.
I'm getting married in a couple of months and will be blessed with three more stepchildren. It can be complicated, expensive and a little bit scary, but I know the advantages of helping young adults become responsible adults.
Bubba's wife and new son couldn't make the Masters ceremony. Earning a green jacket is one of the highest achievements a golfer can reach. It would have been nice if Bubba's wife and son could have been there.
Instead, they get the rest of their lives to have Bubba in his role as an adoptive dad.
It's not as exclusive as being a Master's winner, but is way more important in making a positive impact on the world.
As a fellow Southerner, I'm proud of you, Bubba.
As a fellow left-handed golfer, I'm proud of you, Bubba.
But as a man who stepped up and decided to adopt a child, I am really proud of you, Bubba.
That green jacket looks pretty good on you - but not quite as good as a diaper on your shoulder with a little burp-up on it.