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  • I think every family has something they do together that somehow binds them as a family. For some fathers and sons, it is baseball. Some mothers and daughters sew or knit or share recipes. But we play Pinochle.

    I don't get back to Las Vegas [where my parents have lived for the last 30 years] as often as I'd like. But every time I do, we play Pinochle. Usually my dad and I against my mom and my wife, or my mom and my sister in law, or my mom and my brother. Sometimes my brother and I will play against my parents. But whatever the order, we sit down at the small kitchen nook table and play Pinochle. Usually, my mom keeps score, which means you have to watch her closely. Mom will pencil whip you in a heartbeat if you let her.

    We play double deck without the nines. A game usually goes to five hundred points, but we have been known to play two to three games in a row. And that is when the conversations begin.

    "So what do you hear about cousin Glenn?"
    "Did you hear about Heather's new job?"
    "I hear your weather has been really dry lately. Are the farmers worried about the crops?"
    "We got a new supervisor at the train yard..."

    Somewhere in the middle of those conversations, we catch up on everyone's life. The little things, the nuances of how people feel about things. Things they wouldn't say out loud, but reveal in the tone of their voice or the look in their eyes when they say them. As innocuous as it seems, after a few games of Pinochle, you are caught up on how everyone is.

    I played Pinochle when I was in the Navy. So did my father. When you are at sea, once the work day is done and the meals are over, you can only watch so much television or read so many books. Usually I would join with the same three players, people from different divisions than mine. Being military, the other players were usually the same rank as I was. Since we were all from different parts of the ship, we would talk about our days and fill each other in on what was happening. Sometimes, if two of us were going to do something in the same area the next day, we would make plans to coordinate our jobs. Sometimes, if we were heading into port, we would make plans to visit a landmark or just have dinner together. But after a few games, we were caught up on what was happening.

    Its funny how something as insignificant as a card game can be so important in your life.


    {Painting is The Card Players by Paul Cezanne]
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