This Saturday, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit with her father for the first time in several weeks, and as we tend to do when we see him, we broke out the playing cards and did battle at both hearts and cribbage. He, like us, enjoys a little friendly competition, and he especially enjoys it when there's a little wager on the side - a buck a game, a nickel a point, and so on. Enough to say that there's a bet involved, but not enough to hurt anybody. In fact, I think the most we ever put on a game with him was $20 for a cribbage match. He won, of course.
Since marrying my wife in 2003, I've really enjoyed my father-in-law, and from what I can tell, I think he likes me too - for he's somebody I can call up and talk about sports to, discuss the expectations for this year's A's, who he has penned to win the AL MVP this year, or how his bracket is shaping up for the Final Four. If there's a big game on, he's watching it, and he at least expects me to know the score - even if I'm not glued to the set. Today was no different. Joining him in the mid afternoon, we saw the end of LSU vs. Texas (which went to overtime) and the start of UCLA vs. Memphis, as two of the four teams were set to head to Indianapolis for the Final Four. Meanwhile, we pulled up a card table, and played our own game in parallel.
Maybe in past years I might not have played aggressively, possibly being shy to tweak my new in-law's nerves (or that's my excuse), but today, we made sure to exact as much pain as possible at the card table. Playing to 100 in Hearts, I shot the moon twice in a row, and at the end of the game, he was left at 109 when I had only 40. At five cents a point, the planned side bet, that meant he owed me all of $3.45, while the other players owed me about $2.60 and $1.50 or so. That meant I had the massive haul of $7 - possibly enough to buy lunch this week, but of course, worth much more in bragging rights. Taking the scorecard, I asked him if he wanted to keep it and frame it for posterity. Politely, he said no. Big surprise.
With him being born in 1927, and having recently spent time in the hospital, I know we may not have my father-in-law around as long as we wish, and we will have to treasure these lazy afternoons of friendly competition before they fade to memory. I hope that we continue to make time and value his company and the friendly jousting that occurs, as we fight tooth and nail for every nickel, and recognize the experience is priceless.