Pro golfer Hunter Mahan, aged 31, was playing in the PGA Canadian Open on July 27, 2013. He was ahead of the championship by two strokes and more than one million dollars in winnings dangled within his grasp. And then he received one of the most important phone calls of his life.
His wife was in labor.
Mahan packed up everything and rushed to the airport. His first child–a daughter–arrived three weeks early in Dallas, 15 hours after that phone call. She was dubbed, The Million-Dollar Baby. He stated, “It happened when it did and I made it back. And gosh, I got to see it, which was the amazing thing.”
Father Peter John Cameron, O.P., Editor-in-Chief of the Magnificat wrote in the December, 2014 issue:
“It was the announcement of the coming of a baby that moved Mahan, without a second thought, to turn his back on riches, glory, fame. Something better was waiting for him. Someone. And for this stunning, virtuous act it seemed all the world applauded him in awe. For his action symbolized what life is all about–something we easily forget.”
Mahan and his wife Kandi, had prepared for this. If she went into labor during the tournament, Mahan wanted to be there for the delivery. When he heard during that phone call that Kandi’s water had broken, he knew the baby was coming…and soon. At 3:26 a.m., when Zoe Olivia Mahan was born, Daddy was there to hold their precious gift. There was much celebrating.
The word Advent is derived from the Latin advenio, “to come to.” Father Lenny Andrie, parochial vicar at the Church of Saint Joseph in West St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote: “As with anything in life, we must prepare well to celebrate well. Sadly, the season of Advent can get eaten alive by Christmas shopping and preparing for family gatherings.”
Father Andrie goes on to explain that the Father gives us His Son. In return, we give ourselves back to the Father in the Son. We respond to the Gift of Jesus with the gift of ourselves.
Coincidentally, the golfer who eventually won the tournament because of Mahan’s mad dash was Brandt Snedeker, who withdrew from the Honda Open in 2011 to be at the birth of his own firstborn–also a daughter. It is stated that Snedeker bought Zoe a very nice baby gift.
Snedeker agreed with Mahan’s decision. “It was the best decision I ever made. I’m sure Hunter would say the same thing.”
Father Cameron wrote in the Magnificat that when reporters asked Mahan what made him do something so drastic by leaving the championship, he replied, “Success comes and goes. Seeing your daughter every day, having a family–that is stuff that makes you happy to your core.”
How will you prepare for the coming of Jesus this Advent? What sacrifices are you willing to make so that you are happy to your core on Christmas Day?
Our own Million-Dollar Baby will arrive soon.