Yesterday my husband and I spent the afternoon and evening with some old friends who are also octogenarians. It was lots of fun! We played bridge and then we had dinner together. Bridge is such a great game for keeping the mind active. At one point I found myself reflecting on our beloved Aunt Bette who died in 2009 at 102 years of age. Bette was an avid bridge player who participated in several bridge groups.
When she was in her late 80’s Bette shared this story of one of her monthly groups. There were two tables of women Bette’s age or older who gathered at 10 o’clock on the appointed day. They took turns hosting. Around 12:30 they would sit down to an elegant hostess prepared lunch. After an hour of eating and conversation they went back to the bridge tables for several more hours. Bette said that the quality of the bridge was outstanding but that she was beginning to notice that the lunch conversation was getting a little “wackadoodle”. And, at one session, after a morning of challenging high quality bridge, the group sat down for a typical yummy lunch. But the conversation was a little slow till finally one of the women looked up from her plate and announced that she had read that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. At that another woman proudly added to the conversation that she had read that Roosevelt had been reelected. Aunt Bette said nothing and was glad when they went back to the bridge tables.
I grew up in a family of two bridge playing parents who wanted their children to enjoy the game. Since I had two older brothers who were interested in bridge I seldom participated in the family games preferring to read or just do my own thing. But I didn’t mind subbing when asked so I definitely got the basics down. In college I was a daily commuter from home , taking a pretty heavy class schedule so I could satisfy the requirements to move on to Cornell’s nursing program . Lunch time in college offered the opportunity for bridge but I didn’t feel I had the time to participate.
When after graduation I moved to Washington for my first job and to share an apartment with friends, I was grateful that I at least had some bridge knowledge when I met Jerry because he was a bridge player. When we married and had five children in five and a half years there was not much time for bridge. As the children got older we became part of a couple’s bridge group and since Jerry was usually my partner we usually did pretty well at the game. But I never really worked at improving my skills, it was more for me a fun, social outlet.
Now the children are grown with families of their own and we have become Florida “snowbirds” – heading to Florida in the first week of January and returning the end of March. The two biggest “snowbird” activities are golf and bridge.
When we googled bridge for the town where we rent our condo we learned that there was a House of Bridge , open six days a week where they played duplicate bridge. We decided to give that a try. We took classes and participated in some of the tournaments for beginners. And we joined the ACBL – the American Contract Bridge League.
Bridge has been for me a humbling and yet enjoyable experience. Humbling , because I finally realize just how much I don’t know about this game that I like so much. I want to get better. Enjoyable because sometimes I really play my hands well and feel like I am getting the most out of the cards I have been dealt ( seems like there is a life lesson in there). And through bridge we have made some new and wonderful friends and that is a special treat for octogenarians!!!