There's Something to Learn from Playing Cards
By Mikayla Bean
Dedicated to Rosie Hurd, the Royal Flush of Grandmas.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about my grandma. She has been gone almost two years now, and as I reach a milestone of my life, my wedding, I can’t help but remember all the good times we had when my siblings and I were growing up.
Rose Ellen Hurd, or Rosie, was one hell of a woman. Mamaw was tough as nails when she had to be and funnier than heck. She was a short woman — I felt like I would smother her in my chest giving her a hug as I got older — who had talons for nails — painted a nice blush pink most of the time — and permed hair more than likely since the day she was born. She was firm when needed, but always from a place with love, just like any Italian woman. I can still hear her yell “DJ!” (my grandpa’s name) so it would echo in the whole house. He would come into the room, “Yes, Dear,” sometimes more exasperated than others, but the words were always lined with love. They were the true definition of bickering like that proverbial old married couple. But after fifty years of marriage, they still looked at each other like they were love-struck teenagers. I pray I have a marriage like theirs someday.
She was an amazing cook (except for pancakes and spaghetti, but we won’t go into that). I can still taste the fried corn she would make on her gas stove. It had enough butter to make your arteries shrivel up, but it was like eating kernels of heaven. You could always find her doing dishes in the kitchen because she would rather do that than put food away, sitting in the back-left corner of the kitchen table, or on the front porch of the house on a nice day. I still find myself looking at each place expecting to see her sitting there and saying, “Hey, Sis” while patting my arm with love.
It breaks my heart every time I look out of habit knowing full well she isn’t there.
She taught my sister, brother, and I how to play cards: poker, euchre, hillbilly canasta (this was a favorite of ours), rummy, and anything else we could find on the internet. It was always the four of us when we would spend the night at her house. We would play cards, eat (“Don’t go make yourself sick now!”), laugh, and talk for hours on end. As I look back to all the fun memories, here is what I learned from playing cards with her:
1. Never touch another person’s chips
2. Split the deck, split your luck
3. Never count your money at the table
4. “If you’re going to pout because you lost then we just won’t play anymore.”
I’ll be honest and say that I was usually the one to pout when I lost. I was that kid. Thankfully, after years of practice, I think I can finally lose a card game graciously. Most of the time.
Mamaw and I were usually partners for any game that would need teams while my sister and brother would be on another. This was always my favorite because I knew I had the Master of Cards on my side. When she would suck on her teeth during her turn, you knew it was game over. She would throw cards at me to put into play while my siblings just yelled at her to stop and simultaneously cussing because they knew it would take them at least an extra two turns to catch up to us. I’m sure I looked like the Cheshire Cat with the smile on my face. We made a damn good team. She taught me teamwork, when to double down, and when to fold.
As we grew older, we became busy with our own lives as most people do and didn’t get the chance to go over and play as much as we would’ve liked, but when we did get together, it was like old times. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. I would give anything to go back in time to have one more night of cards.
Whenever I see a deck of cards, poker chips, or talk about Las Vegas I think about all the memories with her, my siblings, and my grandpa — enough memories to fill a book or two — and can’t help but smile. She taught us so much more than how to use a Poker Face and I’ll forever be grateful that she was placed perfectly into my life. I know she’s looking down on me, watching over me always as she switches between different slot machines, giving all the angels a run for their money as she sucks on her teeth waiting for her turn to play.