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Playing the cards you’ve been dealt

The door was always open, a beautiful smile welcomed visitors, and if you left hungry, it was your own fault. Such was my experience at the home of my Aunt Bea.
We used Liverpool Rummy as an excuse for our visits. At least I did. For me, the card game was merely a vehicle to visit, to travel through the lives of those gathered around the table. Over the years, hours of conversations have allowed me to tour other states and countries and attend family events, all while holding a handful of cards and trying to keep up with the game.
Lately our group had been the four of us: Aunt Bea, my cousin Coy, my Mom and myself. I’m pretty sure Aunt Bea and I shared a secret I don’t hesitate to reveal. We were there for the fellowship. Although smart enough to realize every card left in our hands would bring us farther from victory, for the price of an additional unknown card from the stack we would “buy” what the others discarded. We just loved to buy. You know, just in case we might need it later. To make it even easier for the other players, we didn’t pay much attention to their moves. Aunt Bea and I were a good balance for our competitive companions.
On June 24, 2013, I lost my card buddy. Her obituary will include
her full name, Beatrice Waguespack Boé. It will also mention the husband she diligently cared for, Caire Boé, and name their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, succinctly summarizing her 88 years. The gaps left will be filled in with memories unique to the person holding the pen. I’ll use my turn to reveal another peek into our card games.
Over the years, it became obvious we couldn’t give Aunt Bea too much notice of a potential game. She always wanted us to go to her house, and we didn’t want her to go through the trouble of cooking. It didn’t matter. She was always prepared. For anything. Chips and dip? She had that. Relish? Do you want olives, sweet pickles, bread and butter or dill? Cheese? Sliced, wedged or baked brie? A sandwich? Yes. And it would be cut in perfect little triangles, served with relish. Hungrier still? The freezer was stocked. The food was not only delicious but artfully presented.
Of course we brought snacks, Cokes, fudge, relish and cold
cuts. And we always told her we were bringing the refreshments. It didn’t matter. She was ready for us before she ever knew we were coming.
I didn’t realize our last card game was to be the final one with my
aunt. In all other respects, it was a typical evening. We shared memories, current events and recipes. Toward the end of the night, I had an unusual craving for a cup of
hot tea. She instantly directed me
to her perfectly organized hall
pantry. On the way back to the kitchen, I passed the den, which housed the computer she used to update her Facebook page, the
books she loved to read and the pictures of the people she just loved.    
Today as I sip a cup of Bigelow Plantation Mint, the tea she introduced me to, I thank God. He provided me with a real live example of gracious hospitality wrapped up in a beautiful and articulate lady who fondly spoke of the past, fearlessly approached the future and in the meantime, played the cards she was dealt.
Ronny may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.