We come from a long line of card players. From an early age, I can remember our family getting together with either extended family or neighbors (who were like extended family) to have a rip-roaring game of Nerts, Gin Rummy or Hand and Foot. New games would happen over the years - like President or Sticks -and a visit home would not be complete without a card game. I remember often games of Rummy with Mom or Dad when I was 6 or 7, and the lesson learned to lose gracefully. Winning gracefully was never taught - heck a win was a win!. It was a rite of passage to be able to be one of the card players -nieces and nephews got old enough to join in the games, and leaves were put in the tables and decks of cards added to join everyone in whatever game was being played.
During our lives, some hands that are dealt are difficult, if not impossible, to play. No matter how you shuffle things, it may be a round that will not be in your favor. Sometimes you might be lucky enough to pick a wild card to help work things out - keeping yourself out of the hole after the round.
My oldest sister Jean was dealt a difficult hand. It was a game called Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia- a game that not too many people play. She got a few wild cards over the years to keep her in the rounds, but eventually there were no more wild cards to be had. There were a few difficult rounds in which she came out on top with the help of her family. Many doctors joined in towards the end, trying to make sense of the final cards that were dealt to her - and when they finally figured out the rules for Bing and Neel Syndrome, the deck was all used up.
The last Richardson family get together was one full of hugs and tears, and the occasional joke to ease the tension. Saying goodbye to someone you love for the last time is hard. It has taught me that life is way too short, and if you love someone, let them know it.
I thank God for letting Jean hold on long enough to see everyone before her last card was drawn. I thank God that she went peacefully and not in pain. I thank God for allowing her to be my sister.
And like a big sister, she promised me she would put in a good word for me in Heaven...which is good since I will need all the help I can get.
Card games won't be the same anymore. She was the best scorekeeper.
I love you Jean, and I will miss you.