A few years ago my friend, John’s booster group started hosting bingo at my children’s former high school. Wanting to support my friend and a program that had played a major role in my kids’ high school experience, I asked my parents if they would like to go. They had a blast and it turned out they knew people there.
This quickly turned into a monthly outing. Jo, a good friend of mine, also attended and before long we had fallen into a familiar routine. We sat at the same table in the same order- Jo, me, my mom, and then my dad. If Kris was home from school, they would either sit between me and my mom or my mom and dad.
My dad just wants to win, dammit! and when he doesn’t, boy, do people know it. If he is one number away from a bingo and someone else calls bingo, he groans audibly enough that people around us glance over. His smart remarks are a regular part of each evening, followed by my mom’s hushing. He loves to heckle his friends, who sit at nearby tables, and in true older guy fashion, they return the favor.
I spend my time talking to my mom and catching up with Jo, whose kids went to school with mine. We compare our grandchildren, always concluding that we both have the greatest ones around. I am not the most attentive when it comes to my bingo cards. My mom and Jo are often reaching over and dabbing a number that I missed.
The first time I got a bingo, I didn’t want to call it until I was sure. Both Mom and Jo told me to call it. I insisted that I needed to check my card first. I didn’t want to embarrass myself with a false bingo. While I was explaining my hesitation and asking if they were sure, Jo called out “BINGO!” waving her hand in the air with my mom joining in. Then the card checker walked up and they both pointed at me in the middle. The best part was my dad saying to my mom, “Did you get bingo? That’s great!” and her correcting him while a couple seated in front of us, turned to say that the entire conversation leading up to my bingo had to have been one of the most entertaining they have ever heard. So much for not wanting to be embarrassed!
Somewhere along the way, I realized what a precious gift I had been given- time with my parents. So much of my time had been tied up with helping my son with CJ and Beej that I didn’t even realize that time was passing. You always think you have more time. This was never more evident than when an acquaintance’s father passed away suddenly. Like me, this woman was there every month with her parents. Actually, her kids had also attended school with mine from kindergarten all the way up so I had seen her parents at school functions for years. Like my parents, they were the grandparents that were always there. It brought the precariousness of life sharply into perspective to see her there with her dad one month and then him to be missing the next.
Even now, thinking about it stirs a feeling of panic inside me- that fear of losing my parents. I can’t live in fear though. What I can do is make the most of the time that I have with them. Although it can be a challenge when my parents and the little guys are both around because their needs are so different, I’m more mindful of ways I can make this work for everyone. I know this time won’t last forever and I plan on making the most of the time I do have with them.
“Love your parents. We are so busy growing up, we often forget they are also growing old.” -unknown