You’re never too old to play games

dreamstimefree_12869I love playing games, I always have, and one of the people I loved to play games with was Lucy Klein Evenhouse, my mother-in-law or as I like to say mother-in-love. She died in 2011, but I still miss her. As I play games with my grandchildren, I think of her and smile.

Let me tell you about my mother-in-law.

Lucy (Klein) Evenhouse was a game player extraordinaire, and it ran in the family. Her brothers were the Klein uncles who taught me and my children the joys of intergenerational game playing. As adults, my children regale their own kids with tales of the uncles’ shenanigans. (When we adapt a game, we call it playing by Klein rules.)

My mother-in-law regularly beat me at every card game—and she always remembered all the rules and explained them to any newcomers. When my kids were little, we’d squeeze in Scrabble games while the babies were sleeping—it proved that my brain could still function for more than 10 minutes at a time.

She grew older, had a stroke, recovered to the doctor’s amazement, and eventually moved to Pella to be closer to us. After a few years, she took up residence in a senior center a few blocks from our house. She still loved to play cards, and a group started playing every morning after breakfast. I would often stop in on my way to work and take the role of the fourth player so we could have partners. We played their unique version of Kings in the Corner. Three of the ladies were adept card players, able to strategize and play both offensively and defensively. When I made up the foursome with this group, the games were close and competitive.

The game evolved however when one lady played with poor eyesight so that she mistook suits and numbers. They helped her. Another would always forget to look at her partners’ cards, and they reminded her (as unobtrusively as possible, because she was fiercely independent). One just blithely put down any card without any concept at strategy. With minimal eye-rolling, they adapted.

This amazed me and stole my heart. They were using the same adapting strategies I had learned from the Klein uncles so long ago. And they did it so that the participants got the message: “You are not less than. You are someone I want to spend time with, have fun with.”

My mother-in-law has been in heaven since January 2011. I miss her, and I miss the card games at the senior center. I know that there will be a family member who uses their own love of game-playing to spend time with me and adapt the games so that I can continue to play.

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