Familial Obligations.

Among the 97,000 other things I did today, my parents and I went over to visit my grandpa at the nursing home. Upon arriving, we checked the social calendar: Saturday, March 4th, 2:45pm – Bingo. Sweet. And if bingo’s on, you can bet Gramps is already in the dining room, which he was. And, while everyone else had two cards, he had three. He can’t really manage three (he’s 93 and has advanced Parkinson’s), but they play for chocolate bars, so hey, one must increase one’s odds any way one can. (Especially when one is my grandpa, and has a sweet tooth that would put a pre-menstrual woman to shame.)

So Mom mostly managed the right card, and I mostly managed the left, and Gramps managed the one in the middle. Dad read the paper and made entertaining comments under his breath. (Yes, I am my father’s daughter…) As you can imagine, nursing home bingo moves at a blistering pace. And there are plenty of false stops and starts when many of the players’ faculties are… not exactly intact.

But here’s the thing. I love bingo. LOVE. IT. (I had to refrain from taking total control over Gramps’ cards. I should be ashamed of myself… But I’m not.) What tiny fragments of competitive spirit I possess are nicely exercised. It involves searching and organizing. And hell – chocolate bars!

That said, I have only once Gone To Bingo. Those of you who grew up in cities won’t know what I’m talking about. Those of you who grew up in small towns and rural areas will. Big hall (Legion or the like). Rows and rows of splintery folding tables and stacking chairs. Blue air. Vast phalanxes of grey-haired women presiding over what appear to be zillions of cards, with their selection of different-coloured daubers and their good luck troll dolls. They can chain smoke while eating a chocolate bar, drinking a Coke, daubing all their cards at once, and carrying on conversations, inevitably complaining about their health or their children. They are viciously competitive.

My brother goes up to visit my grandpa frequently because there is a Woman of Interest there. (Staff, not resident.) I may have to make a note of the schedule for more frequent visits, too…

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