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I MISS 65

8 March 2017

I miss the marathon games of "65" that we used to play at Cousins Day.  I would need a refresher course now to remember the rules, but they would come back quickly.  We knew that my mother was starting to show symptoms of dementia when she needed reminding at each had which were the wild cards and how the play progressed.  We finally stopped playing the game competitively and just let her play however she thought the game should be played.

When my cousin Cathy died Peach and I bought a big floral wreath for her memorial service, and imbedded in it were two cards -- the 6 and the 5 of hearts.

I grew up playing cards.  The people in my mother's family were big card players, which I presume they learned from their parents, since there was always an automatic card shuffler which rested on top of the refrigerator in my grandmother's kitchen.

I progressed from simple card games like Fish and Old Maid to Canasta, which my cousin Peach and I played endlessly on my weeks at her house during my teen years.  I can remember game after game after game of Canasta, as we sat at the kitchen table and ate onion sandwiches on white balloon bread with French's mustard. (The lunch was almost as important as the games we were playing.)

There was nobody who could beat my mother at Canasta.  Not only was she a great player, and often very lucky, but she had a fierce competitive spirit and her tantrums when she lost weren't entirely for show, but she really meant it.  She hated to lose.  She was never the mom who let a kid win a game.  If we won a game, even a simple game, it was a real triumph because we earned it, not because she let us win.  We worked extra hard to beat her.  That's how I learned to be a pretty decent Canasta player (now, like 65, I'd need a refresher course.)

We also played that game where you try NOT to get the Queen of Spades, or go for getting all the cards ("shooting the moon").  That's funny; I can't remember the name of it now.

Some of my favorite times as a kid were when visiting the aunts and the cards came out. I watched my mother and her sisters (and us cousins, if we were around) visiting over yet another game of cards.  It's a great way to talk and laugh while trying to beat the other players.  A lot of wonderful conversations have taken place over a game of cards.

I never got into poker, though I know how to play some games, and only learned to play bridge a little.  Some women I worked with (one of whom was Cindy, my dentist) started a group and we got together once a month to play.  Cindy was a serious player, but the rest of us were not and so we played more for fun than anything else.  Bridge, and all card games, were always a way to socialize for me rather than a cut-throat game of who could beat whom.

(It's the way I feel about Word with Friends that I play a lot.  For me the fun is playing the game and figuring out good words.  I mostly don't pay attention to who is winning and who is losing)

I only realized that Bridge was a Serious Game when Walt's cousin Nora came from Ireland and quizzed me about what kind of bridge I played.  I didn't have a clue and the more she talked the more I realized I actually knew pretty much nothing about bridge!

When there weren't card games to play there was solitaire and I played that a lot as a kid and had books with rules for various games.  There was a time when I could play a lot of different games ot solitaire..  I would play solitaire now if I could find a flat surface on which to play, but that's pretty much a lost cause, but I do have a couple of games on my cell phone or iPad.

My mother used to play solitaire when she first moved into Atria, but she doesn't remember how to play any more, just like she no longer knows how to work puzzles, which she loved.  She always had a puzzle on a table in her house when she lived in San Rafael.  She was the person from the Hospice thrift store who took home all the donated puzzles to work before they put them up for sale so she could find out if any pieces were missing.  I don't know if she remembers working at Hospice any more, which she did for more than 20 years.

Cards were never a big part of this family's history.  The kids and I played from time to time but Walt is not a card player, so it never became the activity that it had been in my house growing up (it's odd that I say that because my father was not a card player either).'

We played cards or solitaire when we went to Tahoe every Thanksgiving and the kids always got together with the Lawsuit group every Christmas night to play poker ... it was a ritual they looked forward to each year, though they would have gotten in big trouble with the City of Davis if some higher ups realized the game was going on, but they never got caught...or the powers that be turned a blind eye (which is more likely) because they all were employed by the city to keep the building they used clean anyway.

I think the last game of cards I played was in Iowa, when I went back to help Peach with her chemotherapy.  There was a group of women who played every day and they taught me a new game, which I don't remember now.  I have played cards for so long and am pretty good at picking up the nature of a game so I beat them all, which tickled me.  I loved being with a group of women chatting and playing again.

Card games are just something else that has gone by the wayside.  I don't miss it as much as I miss the people I used to play with.  I occasionally think about setting up a card table and trying to play a game of Fish with my mother, but I think even that is beyond her ability to understand these days.
 

PHOTO OF THE DAY

My mother complaining that her little jar of "65" winnings
was so low...she liked it when the coins rounded up over the top.
 

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