A New Kind of Mother’s Day Present

May 11, 2014

I can never think of a good Mother’s Day gift for my momma. Ever since it stopped being cool to give her macrame owls, painted ceramic ashtrays, or gold-painted macaroni stuck to, well, anything, I’ve struggled to find the perfect Mother’s Day gift. So, instead of the annual Amazon gift card, I’ve decided to give something different. I’m giving her a memory. One of my favorite memories, in fact! It’s the memory our time together playing cards.

For a little perspective, you should probably know that for as far back as I can remember, any time there was a convergence of Heedum women expected to last more than, say, two or three hours, my momma, her sisters, and Grandma gathered around the dining room table, where a mysterious card game called “pinochle” was played and yummy food was eaten. And, of course, there was the laughter. The Heedum women? Are Laughers. Loud Laughers. And Loud Talkers, as a matter of fact. You know the type. So if you know me personally, please understand: it’s genetic, okay? You can’t argue DNA.

Anyway, I don’t know what a pinochle is, but I bet it’s something super fun. I’ve never been invited to play, you see, so I really couldn’t say for sure. Not that I’m bitter. I’m only saying I have NO IDEA what’s happening when they play this card game. Except for the trash talking. And the cheating. Those are pretty blatant.

I’m just saying the card games and the laughter of the women in my family- the Aunts, Grandma, Mom- it is IN me, and a part of me, woven into my tapestry like black thread, bringing it all together. So this is a memory I treasure.

Setting the Scene

Okay. Allow me to illustrate what a game of cards with my mother looked like. Imagine me around 16 years old– which shouldn’t be too difficult as I look pretty much the same, except my hair was much bigger in the 80s (not because it was full of secrets, mind you; mostly, it was full of Aqua Net). On any given summer day, you would more than likely find me or my sisters or brothers (or just about anyone my mother could wrangle into playing cards with her) upstairs in my parent’s bedroom, playing cards with Mom on her bed.

Memory, Part 1

Now, I say “wrangle” because you had to have pretty thick skin to play cards with my mom. Let’s just say she had a tendency to gloat when she won. Gloating which more often than not involved some variation of exuberant shimmying and jazz hands accompanied with “I WIN! YOU LOSE! LOOOOOOOOOOSER!” And if you had the luck to beat her? You were invariably subjected to “Best two out of three! Best three out of five!” and so on and so forth. You know, until she won.

Good times.

So I remember us sprawled out on my parents’ comfy king-sized bed facing each other, and Mom would deal. Then she’d say, “Loser goes first.” Which meant, “Go, child. Don’t forget to check your self-esteem at the door because I am going to whoop your butt again and again and AGAIN! Mwah ha ha!” Or at least that’s what I imagined it meant. At the time. But still I played. Um, because I may be just a tad competitive, that’s why?! And beating Mom? That was an upset– a coup, if you will– indeed.

The competitive banter, the shimmying, the occasional ‘L’ to the forehead, the laughter.  Yep. This is a memory of my momma that I treasure, for sure.

Memory, Part 2

One of my favorite aspects of the card playing tournaments was the music. If I was going to be cooped up playing cards with a parental unit when I could be, I don’t know, reading a book, writing emotional, angst-filled diary entries, or you know, perfecting my savage tan (or freckles! whatever! shut up!), then boy howdy, I would be selecting the musical entertainment! Am I right?! Can I hear a big, “Hell to the yeah!”?!

Occasionally, since my mom and I have a fondness for (okay, obsessive love of, whatever) musicals, I would relent and let my mother select some form of show tune or rock opera for our listening pleasure. We’d break out a cassette of her musical selection, slap it in the old tape deck, and begin to play cards.

But most days, I was the god of music. I’d blare my favorite tuneage and we’d sing along. Usually, Mom only belted out about 50 percent of the lyrics, but she’d make up for the parts she didn’t know with some enthusiastic dancing-in-place-while-lounging-on-the-bed-and-laying-down-cards moves. It’s kind of difficult to explain properly, but I assure you it was a thing of beauty. Hysterically funny beauty.

So now, thanks almost single-handedly to me (and a smidgeon of Kasey Kasem), my mother can identify any given song by such varied artists as U2, Prince, Van Halen, Def Leppard, INXS, The Scorpions, Depeche Mode, Bon Jovi, OMD, Erasure, Tears for Fears, Pat Benatar, Heart, the J. Giles Band, Boston, Madonna… Seriously, you name the 80′s band, she knows it!

You’re welcome, Mom.

And this is not even to MENTION the lyrics to Monster Ballads by every 80′s hair band in existence. Oh, and Jody Watley. (“Looking for a New Love” may have been on loop for a bit after an especially tragic breakup. Perhaps. Hey, the song gave me some serious feels, is all I’m saying! Hasta la vista, baby!)

Ultimately, my memory is of so much more than simply playing cards. The love and unconditional acceptance I felt during the time spent with my momma, singing, laughing, talking about the mysteries of life, and gushing about how beautiful Pierce Brosnan was on Remington Steele… well, you can’t buy that kind of happiness. No sir.

Mother’s Day Wish to My Momma

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you! And, hey, I’m glad you liked me enough to actually want to play cards with a teenaged me (I may have been a tad churlish upon occasion during my teen years), and pass on that tradition.

Hmm.

You know, upon reflection, I realize you probably would have really rather had that gift card.