Friday, April 2, 2010
BINGO, PEEPS AND SLOTS:LOVE 'EM OR NOT
There were many things that I learned to appreciate from my mom. She was generous with herself; a hard worker; dedicated to her family; adventurous; and loyal to her friends. I not only admired these qualities, but I tried to make them my own. On the other hand there were a few areas of my mom that I never could quite grasp.
My mom was always very conservative when it came to spending money, as most of the people who survived the Great Depression are. With that in mind, or maybe because of that period of never having enough there were quirky things my mom did. She always washed and reused plastic bags, both the Ziploc and grocery kinds. Below her kitchen sink was an assortment of cleaned glass jars that she might "need" someday. She never met a store-package container that she couldn't reuse for some other purpose. Nothing was wasted with her when it came to food, clothing, or containers. This was just the way she was; waste not, want not.
Understanding how frugal she was might lead to a surprise if you saw her around Bingo Halls or Casinos. I went to play Bingo with her one time and found the whole experience confusing, frustrating and too challenging to keep up with all the scattered numbers. Finally, I slide her over my cards to finish the rest of the games and sat back to watch her in her element. It was amazing that at the close of the games she didn't even care that she hadn't won, she'd had a great time. She loved the challenge of keeping up with the caller and the cards in front of her. That woman's face would light up and a new energy enveloped her being.
We were taking a long road trip one time and her energy was waning, until we stopped at a casino to take a break. Before I could exit the car and help my "feeble" mom out of the backseat, she was nearly at the casino door. My husband and I could barely keep up with her. Putting the quarters in and pulling the handle melted the worries and age right off her. This was when I realized the simple joy my mom found in those one-armed bandits.
Right now, I am smiling remembering how I would pull up before dawn to her apartment and she would be waiting dressed in her "lucky" shirt with pockets to hold her playing money, fanny pack, sun hat, and a cooler packed with our traveling food. When you traveled with my mom, you were packed and prepared for anything and everything. Cold sodas, water (in those saved glass bottles), pretzels, sandwiches, homemade cookies, and other travel comfort foods were loaded and dispensed at whatever time we wanted them.
My mom and I took many trips to the casinos, so that she could stay up all night, play the slots, grab a couple hours of sleep, and give it another try on her "lucky machine" the next day.
During our trips home, she would entertain me with details of how close she had come to the big jackpot, how the person next to her had done, or on a rare occasion how she would spend her winnings once we got home. My huge jackpot was being able to spend time with her away from the everyday tedious duties and troubles.
Another thing that my mom loved, but sadly I didn't ever acquire a taste for was a seasonal treat. PEEPS intrigued me and my mom said she loved their texture, taste and colors. Every year I would try them and be disappointed. The gritty texture and overly sweetness were not to my liking. Peeps would remain an area that my mom and I had could never come to agreement. She loved them and could devour an entire pack in one sitting, while I would hand her over the ones in my Easter basket. She didn't seem to mind, at all.
I have come to the realization that I could adore my mom forever, while at the same time not adore all that made her smile. As long as I live, I won't be able to see a bingo card, slot machine or a simple PEEPS treat without thinking of my mom. Nice, sweet memories of a great lady.