For me writing is a Sunday drive with no specific direction in mind. I cruise along, mindful of my intended passenger/reader (that would be you), asking “Are we there yet”? But still, I selfishly enjoy the journey for its own sake. I’m just in it for the moment and somewhere in the myriad of left, right, and U-turns encountered on my keyboard, I chance upon that intersection where that one feeling that’s longing to be expressed meets my fingertips and…
I find the destination I didn’t know I was headed for.
Last January, my youngest and only son, Richard and his fiancée, Lynn tied the knot. Richard, never one to rush into things, had taken 12 years to figure out what Lynn had known in the first 12 minutes… that they were made for each other. For a really bright guy, my son is sometimes a bit slow. But it’s an inherited trait that I believe comes from his mother’s side.
Deb will say it’s all my fault, of course. But she’ll have to make that argument in in her own blog.
My somewhat global family arrived in various stages for the wedding, with Jen & Phil from Tasmania just before Christmas and Cathy & Sam coming in from Texas a week before the nuptials. It was a great, if somewhat hectic, holiday season that I’ll always cherish. And, trust me; it gave me scads of new material to write about.
One evening I watched as Phil & Jen passed the time by playing Blackjack with Jen’s grandmother, Gert. It was an especially poignant moment for me and it took me back to September of 1985, when Hurricane Gloria downed power lines across the state, leaving us without electricity for 11 days. It was during that period when Gert, in an effort to keep them engaged, first taught Jen & Rich how to play Blackjack.
She explained the rules and helped them shuffle and deal, patiently waiting as they tallied the points in their hands. It was a simple enough game for the kids to grasp with the objective of getting as close as possible to 21 points without going over. More than 21 points meant you were busted and you lost. Simple, to the point, and no second chances like in draw poker. Blackjack meant you placed your bet and played the hand you were dealt, made your choice to hit or stand and let the chips fall where they may. I didn’t realize then the significance of those rules and how they would relate to our lives in general.
And now I watched quietly as Phil & Jen set about to teach her grandmother how to play Blackjack. You see, Gert had survived a stroke a year or two back, and the result was she had lost some of her most precious skills. Crosswords were now a struggle for her and simple arithmetic was a total mystery. But somewhere inside, the significance of the cards remained. And now it was Jen & Phil who worked to keep Gert engaged. They quietly coached as Gert would struggle with the simple act of dealing the cards and they lovingly assisted her as she counted the point values of her hand. And I wept a bit inside. Not from sadness so much. But from the sheer magic of that moment, when a gift given over a quarter century past was now being returned in such a beautiful way.
We all play the hands we’re dealt. And sometimes it’s not about the winning, but the fact that we just keep playing, no matter what.
(And yes, dear passenger/reader, we’re finally there!)