Sunday, May 1, 2011

All Good Things

It was easy to see when it was Friday afternoon in my office for a long time. The boss, me, had an extra lively bounce in his step as the week approached end. And everyone knew why. It was card night.

"Playing cards with grandpa tonight?" I was asked by everyone. You bet I am. In my home, in my dining room, my grandfather, dad, two nephews, friends, neighbors, and I would gather for a night of sheepshead, the best card game ever played. My daughters watched four generations of Schroeder's sit at the same table week after week and play an old German game of cards, tell stories, and laugh. But all good things must end.

For years I deluded myself, wanting to believe it would last forever. This tax season lost that bounce as my grandfather felt the weight of the timekeeper. In mid-March he played his last game of cards at my daughter's birthday party before heading to the hospital and then nursing home. I visited often, watching a strong man yield to ninety years of life. Then, around 3:30 Good Friday afternoon, the card game ended forever. Easter Monday the family gathered one last time to honor our patriarch.

Last Friday we gathered for cards again without grandpa. It was a quiet night. It felt wrong. In honor of grandpa, we will continue on, enjoying the company of friends and family. All will remember in their own way.

I stopped writing for months as the workload of tax season and the desire to spend quality time with family left me without time to write. I'll get back in the saddle and write more. Grandpa would have wanted that. Next tax season should be happier.

I have no regrets spending time with family all these years. At times my workload left me so tired I could hardly think; I still made time for family. I do not regret one moment of it.

One his deathbed, my grandfather never once talked about money or work. He talked nonstop about family and that game of cards. He was the hardest working man I ever knew, but what he found most valuable was family and the time he spent with us. There is a lesson in there for all of us.

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