Just some reminiscing about growing up.
|"Hey Beddy, want to play a hand uv cahds? You sit. We play a hand. I put on some coffee."
It seems like there were thousands of days and that this conversation went on. Each day it varied little and frequently was indistinguishable to any number of other days. I never thought about it much. Invariably, my sister and I would get home from school around the same time and somehow manage to walk in at just about the time my grandfather was waking up.
"Hey you kids, you kids seen da cat? Here Bubbe. Come here Bubbe. Hey you kids, go down and feed da cat."
It was pretty routine, his ramblings. But the interesting part was how he always managed to wake up just as we came in. We could sit outside and watch him and he wouldn't wake up. But no matter how quiet we were when we came in, he woke up. And this was an event we had grown to, well, it was something we preferred to avoid. Like a million other afternoons though, he would wake up. If you said anything about his sleeping he would probably say he was just resting his eyes. He didn't sleep, and we tried our damnedest not to wake him when he wasn't sleeping.
"Hey, you got spades?"
I never got into cards. In fact, no one in our family plays cards really. I know Fish and 52 pick-up, and even a little Blackjack. But for the most part, our family doesn't play the things. They never held my interest. But not our grandfather. He seemed to thrive on them, that and his bloody coookies (say it like spooky). To this day, not one of us could tell you what he and my mother were playing. To me, it looked like they were playing a kind of two-way solitaire. They never really talked during the game. Well, almost never.
"Daddy, you can't put a club there. You can't put a club there! Da-adddy!"
"Yes, I ken. I ken put dat dare. Leave it alone."
"Daddy, you can't do that. You're cheating!"
"I am not. I can put a club ober dare. Mind your business!"
This seemed to go on for hours and days and weeks. Little would change. I'd get off the bus about 3:00 and the supper would be cooking for six that night. Mostly it would be a change of suit. I wonder what it meant to them? I know what it meant to supper. Every night we'd get black-eyed peas. My mother would put them on and get into her card game and the water would boil off. The peas would burn on the battle and viola´! Black-eyed peas! I didn't know broccoli was green until I moved out.
My grandfather was a stubborn, grumpy old man. Sometimes I'd play checkers with him, but it was awful.
"Look what I ken do to you! You not too bright, are you? Watch this and maybe next time you do bedder."
Then he'd crush me and gloat, laughing at my pained expression. We didn't play a lot.
He emmigrated from the Ukraine in 1904. He'd never been on a train, never seen the ocean, never heard of phones or electric lights, that people could fly. He'd never been in a car. I think he felt cheated at missing those things early on in life.
Sometimes the card games erupted into shouting matches and fights. My mother and her father would be screaming at each other, spit spraying out of my grandfather's mouth as he struggle to yell on and keep his teeth in. The angrier my mother got, the less she could remember. Pretty soon she'd be trying to yell at him, but couldn't remember his name.
"Pete...Mar...Daddy! You're cheating and lying about it! You're...whose deal is it?"
The best was the day they both lost it, my grandfather shaking his finger, his lower teeth in his hand, yelling.
"You don' show no respect! Back in the old country you'd ged a whippin', I don' care how old you are! You're a bad person!"
My mother got up, leaned across the table and said, "I've had it!" She got up, walked behind him and let loose with both barrels. She flipped him the double bird behind his back.
Cards still hold no interest for me.