IS IT MORE THAN A GAME?


Is Bridge more than a game? I think it is probably the social media of the past; a way of connectivity. Playing cards are believed to have been another invention of China, along with paper, sometime in the 14th century. From China, the interest in card games spread to Persia, India and Egypt before arriving in Europe.

Tarocchi Players of Caso Borromeo, Milan 15th c.

My parents played cards throughout their lives. Game playing was very important during the Great Depression, and people played a great variety of card games along with Bridge, a game which allowed four people to play and demanded a certain degree of skill. My aunt and uncle made up the fourth at the bridge table, and there was no ceremony connected to their decision to sit and have a game of cards. My father was a natural card player who somehow knew what cards each of his opponents held. He was also an impatient player, which led my mother in later life to refuse to play with him. Strangely, none of the next generation of our family have chosen to learn the game. A favorite niece of mine, when offered a suggestion by a kibbitzer, threw her cards in the air and said “I give up!” Though we love games of all kinds, it amazes me to find that many of our friends do not. They much prefer an evening of good conversation, and we find that equally stimulating.

A “Bridge party” soon became a party, complete with food and beverage, and allowed the hostess to trot out her best linen bridge cloths and china, and supply tea and cookies. Hundreds of cookie recipes have been created to keep up with the social obligation of a bridge party.

When in my forties, I joined a group of women most of whom were learning to play the game, and we met once a week learn the finer points. I was late to the game as my interest lay elsewhere at an earlier age. The game takes concentration, and I have to admit that my focus was more on the food and the companionship.

My mother-in-law introduced me to the bridge party having two tables of four players, and as the years passed I found that two or even three tables were expected if you joined a bridge club. Your bridge club was a commitment to however often it was decided to play. If you found you would not be available on that day, it behooved you to get a substitute. Through the years I have belonged to several bridge clubs, some often containing the same women. As women aged, their intensity never waned. My sister-in-law and my best friend each took the game seriously, and would play at the drop of a hat or should I say at the drop of a card?

Game playing of any kind is a competition, and let’s face it, we all like to win. Playing with and against all kinds of men and women over the past 60 years, you can learn a lot about human nature. For those who stick too closely to the rules, I admire them and hope they enjoy their game, but I will be busy that day so you need to get a sub.

One lovely aspect of the bridge party is the sharing of secrets, and keeping up old friendships.

HELLO GOD


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Hello God,

I don’t know if your remember me, it’s been awhile since we spoke. I know how busy you are, but I wanted to tell you about my friend Joan, who just moved in up there. She was one of the best people I have known down here, so I assume she has already settled in. I hope you saved a really nice place for her.

Some acquaintances through the years actually thought we were sisters since we were together so much. If that was so, she was the pretty one. I remember the first time we met. Her boyfriend brought her over to meet Dr. Advice and me. Of course he wasn’t Dr. Advice yet, and she ended up marrying her boyfriend. She was from Texas, with an infectious Texas accent, and we realized we would be best friends forever, which was a good thing because the boys had been best friends since the age of five, and it would have been awkward if we didn’t like each other.

Her mother Rosie from Texas, named her for her favorite movie star, Joan Crawford, which she pronounced “Joanne”, but like a lot of us, she was called by several names: Joan, Joanne, Josie, but she was always “Joanie” to me.

As you know, she had a lot of problems the past few years, so I hope that has all been solved by now. She was a mean competitor on the tennis court, and we hiked over a lot of terrain together. We went on many trips along with our dear husbands. She lost hers some time ago as you know, so if there is a way to connect them again it would be really nice. I know she missed all that. Speaking of being a competitor, I hope there are some bridge groups up there, because she spent a lot of time winning card games. She also kept me up all night once playing Monopoly, long after the boys lost and went to bed, and she finally won that game too at 6 a.m.

She didn’t win the health game though, but she surely tried. I never saw anyone so brave, and determined. As such, she was a great inspiration to those of us who need inspiration. When she lost her hearing, I asked her if we needed to learn sign language, and she said no, they wanted her to learn to read lips. She became a pro at that too. She took up boxing to try to help her balance. I keep a picture of her with her pink boxing gloves.

I suppose by now you have looked into her case and can see what a great mother she was to her children and grandchildren. She kept track of them all so well it made me feel like a real slacker. People who didn’t know her well said she was sweet. I need to tell you she was a lot more than that. She was smart, funny, and a good business woman as well as sweet. She loved meeting people, and really made an effort to meet new people wherever she lived.

It’s been hard to communicate with her the past couple of years, but sometimes just sitting and holding hands was enough. I will miss that.

Anyway, God, I just wanted to make sure you met Joanie, and took good care of her. A lot of people down here miss her.