My father loved to play cards. It seemed that he played every card game ever invented and I think he even created a few games of his own. One of his favorites was cribbage.
Dad taught me to play cribbage when I was quite young. He may have thought that card playing was an important thing for a child to learn. But I suspect he may have taught me just to have someone to play cribbage with. Whatever his motives, I found myself saying “fifteen two, fifteen four, and a pair is six” almost as soon as I was old enough to count.
I noticed quite quickly that the hands dealt varied a great deal. Sometimes I was excited when I turned over the cards and sometimes it was frustrating to see what I had to work with. Every time, six cards were dealt to each player and a decision immediately became necessary. I had to discard two of the cards into the crib. I remember agonizing over those decisions. But I had to make the best judgement I could.
Life is a lot like cribbage. We don’t control the cards we are dealt and decisions are necessary every time a card is played. And those decisions can not be unmade. No one said life was fair.
Dad has been gone over 27 years now. I still miss him. I miss the grin he got on his face when he had picked up a couple of steaks and was about to grill them for us. I miss his military-like precision when instructing me how to sprint in from right field to back up first base on a routine ground ball hit to the infield. I miss how he out fished me even though he believed that a red and white daredevle was the only lure God ever invented to catch Northern Pike.
And through it all, everything contained a lesson, intentionally or not. Parents convey lessons in everything they say and do around their children. Sometimes those lessons are so subtle that we don’t even realize that we are being taught. In fact, sometimes our parents don’t realize they are teaching us. But those subtle lessons are the ones that often endure. And the good lessons are the ones that sustain us long after we think we’ve outgrown parental wisdom or long after we’ve lost the parental teacher.
So Dad may have just wanted someone with whom to play cribbage. Or a kid to play ball with in the back yard. Or a fishing partner. But along the way, I learned to make due with what life brought my way. I learned to pay attention. I learned to spend time together, indoors and out.
You see, i learned that the true object of playing cribbage was not to be the first player to peg 121 points. The true object of cribbage was just to play cribbage with Dad. The lessons were there to be learned. But the best lessons just happen. And they wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t playing cribbage with Dad.
Daniel Blake June 10, 2019