Monday, March 22, 2010
Wild Card Party
Last week my husband and I visited his Uncle Burt (name changed to protect the innocent) in the nursing home. I love Uncle Burt. He is 92 years old, and his mind is still pretty sharp, though his body is wearing out. We try to visit him at least once a month. Sometimes we do better, and sometimes worse, but we always have a good time when we see him.
As a matter of fact, we have a recurring joke. Whenever I meet a new nurse of nurse's aide taking care of him, I introduce myself as "Uncle Burt's favorite niece." This is funny on many levels, the first being that I am actually a niece through marriage. My husband Bob is actually his nephew by blood. The other funny thing about the introduction is that Uncle Burt had only one sibling, who had only one child: Bob. His late wife's sisters did not have any children. So not only am I not his niece by blood, but he doesn't have any other nieces either by blood or through marriage. Uncle Burt chuckles and nods every time I do this. If Bob is with me, I introduce him as my husband. Bob then asks "So if you get Uncle Bill, which of your relatives do I get in exchange?"
Still, it is difficult to have a conversation for a long period of time with a person who is in a Nursing Home. His body is weary, and he has a heart condition. We don't want to upset him, so talking about the news is out of the question. We ask him how his grandchildren are, and he is proud to tell us. He also tells about some of the art projects he works on. I might mention books I am reading, or how my tomato seeds for my garden are growing. But after about half an hour, it is hard to think of what to say. While that was true even with my mom, it seemed like sitting with her while she watched t.v. and I read seemed a lot more natural than with Uncle Burt.
Luckily for us, his daughter keeps a deck of cards for him in one of his drawers. This works out nicely, because we can play cards for a couple of hours, and conversation that comes slowly is just fine during a friendly card game. We do keep it friendly. We don't play for money, not even pennies. The game proves entertaining in more ways than one.
Uncle Burt likes a game called "Deuces Wild". The first time we played it, I had suggested "Gin Rummy" and Uncle Burt agreed. However, he was playing "Deuces Wild". I did not realize it at the time. I just thought that the 90 year old man cheats. I was okay with that. If winning was that important to him, I was more than happy to oblige. But one day we visited him while he was in a basement playing "Deuces Wild" with four other people, and as I watched, I realized that was what he plays when we play "Gin Rummy".
You'd think that this discovery would even out the playing field, wouldn't you? It doesn't. I don't know all the rules for "Deuces Wild" and neither does Bob. If we ask Uncle Bill if something is right, he shrugs and says he doesn't remember, and not to worry about it, he'll allow for it. It seems that the three of us are playing some mixed up card game where we are all following different rules. But it all works out for us in the end: Uncle Burt usually wins.
Click on the above link to check out my friend Wendy's Life is Funny blog carnival. If you have a blog, consider joining the party. This week she is serving cookies... ;-)