Any more in the evenings when I’m settling down or wanting to ponder a topic I go out to my old computer and click onto the games section. I really am not much of a person for the game apps. a computer has to offer me but there is one of the simplest games that I go to. I click onto Solitaire and play over and over or maybe just until I win a game.
As I’m playing this that evening I got to thinking. My mom was the queen of solitaire in her time. Of course in her time she wasn’t using a computer or an app. Nope she preferred the deck of playing cards and a flat surface. To those of you who never got to meet her she was kinda short on some things. Number one she was only 4’11” tall. Second she weighed 104 pounds. Third she operated her life being short on sleep as she would sleep maybe four hours in a twenty-four hour period. She couldn’t change her height and weight but it seemed to me and the rest of the family that she was going to pack as much as she could get done not just in a day but in every day. I’m here to tell you that she stuck to that approach to life for as long as I knew her and many people who did know her always comment on how incredibly much energy she possessed. Now the only times I might catch her nodding off to sleep was during a television program and of course it would be one she liked. She would wake up at the commercials and fuss that it should be her sleeping through the commercials and not the show. Sometimes when we would be in church and listening to the sermon mom just couldn’t handle setting still that long and as the minister spoke I would notice her head begin bobbing. (it was learned early on that I was wise to never bring that up to her so I didn’t.) The stationary position was a sleep potion to her or so one would think.
The part that has always given me cause to wonder was that lying still in bed not only did not cause her to sleep but it caused her to be too still and her mind would take over. I have stopped in her house in the morning and she would be moving somewhat slow and she would say I just couldn’t sleep last night. Some days I would see a pile of letters she had written to her sisters and my sister Peg and many other folks. I know I ask her when did she have time to write those and she said oh while I couldn’t sleep. My mom decided that along with all she already was doing she would write about her family and the times that had passed. (Sound familiar?) A lot of the book was put down onto paper when she was up in the middle of the night.
Mom even decided if she went to bed earlier there would be the time to miss some sleep and still get in a full nights required amount. That was wrong. I know for years my parents had a subscription to the morning Cincinnati Enquirer. The paper man threw off the paper around four thirty. So mom would get up earlier and she would be waiting for that paper to be thrown in the drive and she could go out in the dark and bring it in. I guess she figured old news was stale news. If there was big news that had happened she was the first to know it. (Take my word for it!) So anyway a person looked at it mom averaged four hours of sleep at the most.
So if she wasn’t writing or waiting for the paper she would be either sitting on the couch in front of the coffee table or at a corner of the dining room table. Either place she was deep into playing solitaire. Mom played way more hands of this game than she ever admitted to. I ask her why do you play it so much. She said well I have trouble sleeping but most of all when I play the game it allows me to think. I ask her like what are you thinking. She answered that she was thinking about all that had happened in her life and was thinking what might happen in the near future and it really didn’t matter to her that she couldn’t change the future too much but she still just had to think about it. Then she said the following. This is the time of day when I can think of you and Peg and Ben and all of your families and then I have the time to do the worrying, I ask her just why she was worrying at that time as all was going very well with all of us. She said that is when bad things happen. All is going too good to continue. It wasn’t but a week or maybe two when there was some news in the family that came with bad news. Since then I have always remembered it is best to be a worry wart so trouble doesn’t sneak up on you.
Mom would play that game over and over and I am not making this up but the deck she was using had the numbers wore off of them to the point you could hardly make out just which card it was. Also she had used the deck so much that where her thumb and fingers had rested while holding the deck had worn it until it was in the shape of an S. My daughter said that once when staying at her grandmas she tried using a new deck but after two games she got the old deck and declared it was a much better deck. (Did I mention that my mom was not one for change?)
These days I find myself in front of the computers screen and I’m clicking away at a game of solitaire. It seems that my desire to play seems to be increasing and just recently I feel I found out just why. It is heredity! It must be as I find this a very good time to think. I have thought of many happenings I want to elaborate on and I think about the future even though there isn’t a thing I can do about it and I worry about my children and my grandchildren. Just as I am setting here now late sometimes in the night and wondering just why even though down deep I already know. There is one big difference between mom and me. I have to play until I can win a game and my mom would win every game she ever played in her life. I accused her of possibly cheating and in total indignation she informed me she was just completing the game.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you are interested in reading more of his stories they can be found in his books ‘There are Places to Remember” and’ Memories ARE from the Heart.” He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.