We were all sitting around the kitchen table at my parents house while waiting for the funeral parlor guy...as my father called him...the "undertaker" to pick up my mother who had passed away an hour or two before. One of my sisters said, "what should we say in her obituary?" We talked about the usual things in them like mother, grandmother, etc when I said..."We have to put in there that she loved to play Bingo". We all agreed, Doris Joy loved to play bingo.
I remember when we first moved to Florida and she was, what she called, retired. "Your father is retired and so am I", she would say. I didn't understand what she meant as she was always at home when I was a kid. She sometimes drove a van for special needs in NY to supplement my father's income but it wasn't a steady thing. Anyway, her retirement consisted of getting up with me in the morning, shopping for groceries, getting "horizontal" in the afternoon in front of her soap operas, preparing dinner for my father and I and then going to bingo. We always knew when she was going to bingo because she would make beef stew most nights. My father and I loved that beef stew. We would walk into the house around 5 pm, see the table set and smell the beef stew on the stove. "Your mother must be at bingo" my father would say. We never really knew which one she was at because she went to so many different ones. She went to the Jewish bingo, the Catholic bingo, the Coast Guard bingo, the Greek bingo and sometimes, when she could get her bingo buddies to take a ride, she would go to Tampa to the Seminole Indian bingo.
She was one of those "super" bingo players. It was back in the day when you could smoke at the hall too. She would lay out her cards...25 of them to watch, and then get out her magnetic chips and her wand, light her cigarette, and wait for the numbers to be called. I remember her leaning over her cards, cigarette hanging out of her mouth, looking over her glasses telling my sister she missed a number. It was crazy. When the games were over, she would pass that wand over the chips and they would be sucked up in no time and ready to go for the next round. She liked some of the callers, she hated some, and every so often, she would complain the games were rigged...but she went day after day and week after week.
When she got home at night, my father and I would be watching TV. "How'd you do?" he would say night after night as she entered the front door. Either she would hand over some money to both of us from her winnings or she would say it was a bad night. "Who was there tonight?" my father would ask, and she would name all of her "bingo buddies" as we called them.
Fast forward to my life...she and my father are gone, and I am raising kids. My kids are involved in lots of activities, some of which need lots of money to run. At one of the meetings, I heard myself saying, "what about bingo?" to make money. As I was saying that, the old familiar feelings came flooding back...seeing my mother walking out the door with her bag of bingo stuff, the smell of beef stew and the table set with the bowls she made at ceramics, sitting on the couch with my father in the chair watching an old John Wayne movie and him asking her..."How'd you do?" when the front door opened.
I must have the Bingo gene...I can't wait to go and play a little bingo. I think I will start out with 6 cards, regular chips and of course, the hall will be no smoking. I am sure that I will have trouble staying focused on the cards for awhile but I am hoping it will come to me. I also know that I will win...I think I have an in with the "Bingo Gods" if you know what I mean.
We'll tawk tommorow,
I love you all,