Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Addendum for Today's blog- heart of a mother story

Okay -this didn't work out the way I thought it would. I guess there's only one post a day? My blog for today is below this story. Sorry! I'll work on it.

I reference this story in today's blog and I wanted to put it's link in. Not being that tech savvy, I decided the easiest way was to add it to my blog list. So, this is not today's blog, it's just an addendum. - Kay
This was published in the compilation book by Wayne Holmes, Heart of a Mother.

Time for One More Hand?

“Your daddy gets home in thirty minutes. Now help me get this place picked up.” Mama would push her chair back from the table, leaving the cards for one of us kids to pick up. She had bigger fish (well, really hamburger) to fry. “Linney, go get me a pack of hamburger out of the freezer. David, you clean up the living room and Kay, you take care of this.”
“This” she defined with a sweep of her arm at the dining room table where we’d been holed up for a full day of our summer vacation. “I’ve got to get dressed!”
At some point in the day, one of my brothers might have pulled on a pair of shorts and his cowboy boots. However, as the sun started dropping in the sky, we usually were still in our pajamas.
Hot summer mornings often began with my two younger brothers and me pulling out a game board or a pack of cards. We preferred canasta and gin rummy, but liked those games best when four people played. That meant we needed Mama. She’d listen to our pleas, pick up her cup of coffee, take it to the dining room table and agree to a couple of hands, always adding, “And then I’ve got work to do.” Of course we didn’t need to beg too hard, Mama loved playing games and cards. We joked that she wanted three kids so she could always play a hand of cards. And of course one hand leads to another hand and another…
Now, we didn’t live in some kind of poker hangout, pool hall combination. No, a suburban ranch housed our family of five. Daddy worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee at one of the government plants, and Mama took care of us kids. Summer was our favorite season. We went strawberry picking, planted a garden, loved to go water skiing on the Clinch River, camped as much as possible and spent Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights at Cedar Grove Baptist Church.
On those card playing days we didn’t do a lick of work; we just stayed in our pajamas all day. We laughed and strategized. We learned about each other: who could bluff, and who couldn’t, who always wanted the high cards, and who would take a risk. Mama told stories of growing up in North Georgia with 13 brothers and sisters, and we’d talk about the happenings in our lives. At some point we ate bologna sandwiches, but we never stopped playing. In my memory, the house stayed dark. We didn’t even open the curtains and that only added to the secret pleasure of the day.
Mama liked having kids. And she really liked that we were those kids. She never played easy with us. We all tried our best to win, but we always laughed a lot while doing it. Mama knew us and told us about ourselves as we lay down and picked up cards. “There goes Kay grabbing up the aces. She likes those high cards. She wants to win fast.”
Because she really knew us, she boldly told the world who we were and didn’t back down. “No, David doesn’t have a learning problem. He just doesn’t want to do the work. He’s only seven and he beats his older brother and sister, his daddy, and me at Clue.” Then she told us how she looked at the school psychologist and asked, “Have you ever played Clue?” If she knew where to find that psychologist today, she’d be the first to rub David’s college degree in computer programming in his face.
Then the complicity we shared after we played the last hand. Mama chunked that frozen rectangle of hamburger into a pot on the stove to defrost. We threw open the curtains and then dashed off to put on our clothes. Cleaning up was part of the day. Mama played hooky with us, now her day’s work waited. We giggled a lot during those thirty minutes of scurrying around. We weren’t trying to keep it a secret from Daddy how we’d spent our day. Mama always told him as soon as he came in. No, the giddiness came because we’d stepped outside what the world said was good and right.
You just don’t sit inside on a beautiful summer day, and you definitely can’t still be in your pajamas at suppertime. Adults have too much to do, too many things on their mind to sit around playing games. Besides, who wants to play with a bunch of kids? Where’s the fun of playing with a seven-year-old when you’re eleven?
Mama tossed off the confines of being an adult and we rose above the passivity of just being kids. We stepped outside the world as we knew it for a day.
God watched our little family and surely smiled at the lessons Mama provided. Those times we left the regular routine taught me that the world doesn’t always know what is good and right. What the neighbors might say isn’t nearly as important as what your heart says. Mama knew that a day of just being, loving, and laughing—a day of ignoring what the world wants to force down our throats—is sometimes needed. Those card-playing days happened in the summers of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Now, as an adult, I know that the world outside my house was falling apart during those hot and humid days. Mama couldn’t keep Watergate, or Vietnam, or death out of our world, but she did teach us to step out of that world occasionally.
I remember those days when I hear God calling me to stop, take some time, just spend a day with him. I want to tell him how busy I am, how much I need to get done. Then I recall a darkened house, empty bologna rings on the kitchen counter, three kids in pajamas laughing and loving their Mama, still in her robe as she deals the cards.
You know, God, maybe I do have the time.


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