From a young age, my dad taught us all the card games you can imagine (and some you have probably never heard of). His favorites were rummy, canasta (and double deck canasta), big casino little casino and others. My dad was a very good teacher and patiently explained the rules. He would always say after his explanation, "Just play, you can learn as you go along."
Our family ritual was the weekly rummy game with my dad and my two sisters. It was usually on a Friday night because the game would go late. Rummy is played for points and our games would get up to the thousands and last multiple nights. The older I got, the more I noticed how the winning point cutoff depended on how my dad was faring point wise.
For those of you who don't know, a "rummy" is when a player discards a playable card. If one of us girls committed such a grievous error, my dad would be waiting to pounce. He would slap his hand down on the table and bellow, "Rummy!" making my sisters and I jump in our chairs at the kitchen table.
Sometimes, we would have to stop because one of us would be yawning at the table. Other times, my mom would get home from work around ten or eleven and we would still be playing.
"Time to stop girls. I am gonna make your mom something to eat," my dad would say. My sisters and I would groan, but my dad would pick up the scoresheet and put it in the drawer saving it for the next game night.
The memories of our card nights are so palatable and real that I can almost imagine myself there. I have no patience and it amazes me to think that my dad enjoyed spending his nights playing card games with his three little girls. I don't remember any annoyance or weariness around us during the card games.
Don't get me wrong. There is no idealization here. If he could have, I know my dad would have been at the bar with his friends sitting on a bar stool, his glass waving in the air. But, my mom had to work and my dad always came home to watch us.
Is that what love is? Because when I think of those card games, that's the feeling I get. My dad, my sisters and I, the kitchen table, and a feeling of safety and warmth.
Yes, that is love.