Asher on Aspen: Live Like Bob
A tribute to the ‘Asher Open’ and my dear Midwest roots
Asher on Aspen
For the past few years, I’ve been having one very specific reoccurring dream. I am running from someone down a gravel road and there are cornfields surrounding me. I am out of breath, and I frantically hustle up the spiral staircase that leads to my grandfather’s living room. He gets up from his big, brown recliner in the corner and comes over to greet me. While patting me on the back, he assures me that everything is fine. He has a warm and calming presence that instantly eases my fear. Then, he offers me peanut brittle, and we eat it while standing over the island in the kitchen.
When I wake up from this particularly vivid dream, I feel calm and at peace, and very connected to my grandfather. I was only 8 years old when he passed away. Why am I having this recurring dream about him? Why am I not dreaming about my grandmother who passed away during COVID? Or my aunt Gunilla? Or my godfather Danny who passed away? Since the start of this recurring dream, I’ve thought a lot about my grandpa, Robert Asher, and the kind of person he must have been. Would Bob and I have been close if he were alive today? Did we have the same personality traits? Is he trying to tell me something through this dream?
To some, analyzing dreams might seem arbitrary and like a waste of time. I for one would like to believe that dreams aren’t just random. I am no oneirocritic, but it feels like dreams are much bigger than something that the human mind can even begin to comprehend. I would like to think they are all linked to our intuition and subconscious mind. Having had this dream recently, I was even more excited to attend the annual Asher Open in Central City, Nebraska.
Every year, my family gets together on the first weekend in June at our family lake cabin for a two-day golf tournament that my grandfather dubbed the “Asher Open.” This decades-old family tradition started as my grandfather’s birthday party 45 years ago in 1977. He wanted to be at the lake, surrounded by friends and family while playing golf. That birthday party extravaganza has since turned into a massive family reunion with many longtime friends who have been attending for much longer than I’ve even been alive.
Walking into our family cabin, I feel my grandfather’s presence more than ever. There is a distinct smell that comes with the cabin. It’s a musty waffling scent that brings back happy memories. I catch myself sniffing the air for just a hint longer to capture that long-ago smell before it disappears again. Memories that I never really gave much thought to are suddenly rich and realistic, and my mind races to another time. Isn’t it intriguing how just one smell can bring back a flood of memories?
The cabin itself is quaint and idyllic with a rustic, inviting charm. In the corner next to the kitchen, you’ll find an entire wall of pictures from various years of the Aspen Open. Beneath the photo wall, there are albums with pictures from every single year dating back to 1977. My Aunt Jan always says, “If you make the wall, you’re doing something right.” Deer mounts caught by my grandpa proudly line the interior of the cabin. Wooden signs and decorations are scattered around randomly. The signs boast phrases like “What happens at the cabin, stay at the cabin” and “Life is better at the lake.”
Though the weekend is centered around golfing and gambling, there’s a bevy of wild activities happening around the lake. The younger boys are spotted fishing and racing around on the four-wheelers. My best friend Tori and I just wrapped up a jet ski ride. Family friends are in the garage discussing golfers and how they played that day. My aunts are preparing the food and getting everything together for the annual Saturday potluck. An old family friend who doubles as the auctioneer is testing the microphone in preparation for the Calcutta auction to begin. The rain begins to roll in, but that doesn’t stop the 65 plus golfers from continuing with the usual weekend festivities.
I can’t help but think about what an incredible guy my grandfather must have been. It takes a remarkable person to inspire such a significant tradition. It’s simply astounding that his legacy is still being celebrated 45 years later all while bringing together family and friends. Despite having lived in Aspen for the past six years, it’s always humbling to go home and be reminded of my dear Midwest roots. No matter how lovely and luxurious Aspen proves to be, there’s no escaping my small-town origins.
Though I may never understand this confusing, frequent dream that I’ve been having, I would like to believe that it has something to do with family, tradition, and legacy. Maybe the dream is a reminder to leave my mark on this world, to make a difference, and to carry out traditions, just like Bob did. To live a little more like Bob did.