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Oh, the Games Mama Played!
When we think of Mama, we mostly think of her serious side. She was not to be trifled with. She was a strict disciplinarian. Much like Grandmama before her, she saw things largely in terms of right vs. wrong with no in between. She was more serious than Daddy, and often more serious than we would have liked. But she also loved games and play and having fun, and because that side of her was a bit rarer, we appreciated it all the more when she showed that side.
Growing up, there are a few memories that stand out where Mama was playful and we enjoyed her lighter side.
Jacks, or jack rocks, was one of Mama’s favorite games from her childhood. She taught me how to play, but she also taught lots of my friends to play as well. I remember when I was in late elementary school/early middle school, a new girl had started coming to our church -- Sharon. She came over to our house often and we could usually be found playing jacks/jack rocks -- with Mama on the floor with us -- tossing the ball and scooping jacks. She was better than us always, but oh, how we strove to beat her.
One of my favorite toys growing up was a hula hoop. Part of the reason is because it was one of the things Mama would do with us. She was a pretty good hula hooper! We spent hours and hours hula hooping together or taking turns or having contests. We were amazed (my brother and I) that Mama could throw the hula hoop out on the grass and make it return to her. We spent additional hours practicing until we could do that, too. One of our favorite hula hoop games that Mama played with us was this: she would roll the hula hoop into a grassy area of the yard and Dale and I would wait patiently and try to find just the right timing and just the right angle to jump through the hoop and land in the grass on the other side. We begged her to keep playing this one time and time again!
Mama was also really good at jumping rope. She always made sure we had a jump rope on hand. If Santa didn’t bring one at Christmas, rest assured it would find its way to us somehow during Christmas -- or other times, too. She taught us how to straight jump, skip jump, and jump backwards. She could even criss-cross the rope while jumping! As a child, it was amazing to see your mom be so good at something that everyone knew was of prime importance. And it was. This, at least, was an area I could hold my own with the kids at school because I was a fairly decent jumper -- thanks to Mama.
Over the years, board games became one of our favorite things to do together. Mama was always very competitive! And, often . . she won. I won't even lie. Sometimes, it was because she would cheat (or at least stretch the rules like a rubber band!). But it was also a reminder that Mama was brilliant and so good at so many things! As we grew older, and into adulthood, she especially enjoyed word games like Scrabble and Boggle. Up until the very end, she enjoyed her computer games and board games with the family.
Card games were another place where she excelled. Growing up, she taught me to play Solitaire and Rummy. Mama and Daddy and their dear friends, Don and Joyce (the same ones we visited in Virginia from my Doctor Mama stories) loved playing Canasta together. Oftentimes, we'd go visit them when they were living close and the grown-ups would play cards or talk theology while Donna, Susan, Dale, and I (and later their younger brother Donnie) played. I have rarely played a game of Canasta with Mama that she didn't win. Whatever she did, she did it with gusto and with the intention of being the best she could be. As years went on, Sunday afternoons often found us playing Canasta. We learned how to play with 5 players or 6 to accommodate whomever was available for play. It didn't matter who was on Mama's team -- she almost always ended up on the winning side!
I'll forever be grateful for all the things Mama taught me, and all the gifts her serious nature brought (even when I didn't enjoy it at the time . . .) But this side of Mama was one of my favorites, and I loved getting to play with her, no matter how old I got. It is for sure one of the things I miss the most now that she's not here any longer, and I'm sure if they have games available in Heaven, Mama has already found her way to the table and has won quite a few rounds of whatever they play.
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I've been a teacher of K-3 students for over 20 years; I'm also a writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and picture books. I'm wife to an amazing husband and mom to Sparkles, Mocha, and Rusty -- our feline fur babies . I love reading, writing, singing and listening to music. I enjoy nature, Bible study and spending time with friends and family!
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