Editor’s note: As the year comes to a close, I’d like to offer a few of my favorite stories that appeared here. The following piece about the death of Seve Ballesteros is from early May. Many thanks to Brian Keogh for allowing me to share his words in this space.
By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF
IT WAS AN ALMOST SACRED RITUAL. Wiping away the tears that streamed down his cheeks, Baldomero Ballesteros undressed his brother Severiano’s body with an almost maternal gentleness and dressed him in his Sunday uniform—the white shirt, the same navy blue sweater and navy blue slacks that he had habitually worn on the final day of his greatest triumphs.
The family had gathered around Seve’s bedside on Friday and cried silent, bitter tears.
“I held his hands and stroked them and thought: what these hands have done in the world,” the eldest of the Ballesteros brothers told the Spanish sports daily Marca.
“He knew he was dying and he did so with total integrity. More than a brother or a son or a father, a glory has left us.
“He said goodbye to everyone one by one. He clutched our hands, he whispered in our ears. I moved in very close and said: ‘I love you’. And Seve replied: ‘I love you too.’”
Baldomero believed that it was “best” to dress his beloved brother in the Sunday uniform that defined him as one of golf’s greats, one of the sport’s true legends.
“I thought it was best and everyone nodded in agreement,” he said.
Baldomero was asked by national and international sporting and political bodies how best to honour Seve after his death and the manner in which they could say their last goodbyes. But Seve himself had already told him how he wanted it to be: his wake, cremation and burial in the lands surrounding his home were to be conducted in absolute intimacy.
“He told us everything. There was to be just a funeral in the town church and nothing more. Everything else was to remain within the intimacy of the family. Seve is a village boy and we thought it was best. His funeral rites will be as simple as for any other neighbour. He will be sent on his way like anyone else. He was born here and he will remain here.”
Seve will be cremated in a secret location, as was his express wish and his ashes will remain on the lands of his Pedreña home.
The funeral will take place on Wednesday at one o’clock at the parish church of San Pedro de Pedreña and the family will then receive his mortal remains and respect his final wishes by burying his ashes under the cool green grass that gave him so much happiness, so much humanity and so much glory.
Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.