Spring has sprung! To me that means perfect weather and Mother's Day. I am compelled to recall fond memories about my terrific Mom, especially about her dealings with her free-spirited daughter, (me).
I have played poker since I was a child but my Mom didn't know a thing about that until I was in my forties. I was born and raised in the Deep South and my Mom was as Southern and Southern Baptist as you can get. Playing poker was gambling and gambling was sinful!
My mom, Mimi and I were very close and I could talk to her about almost anything. I choose not to burden her with my sins.
As a kid, my cousins and I would have poker marathons in the garage. We played on a Monopoly board as a camouflage as we all had disapproving parents.
When I moved to Las Vegas in 1986, I finally had a long talk with Mom and explained how much I enjoyed social poker. I later heard that when she returned home, when asked, she told her lady friends that "Susie had moved out west and was dabbling in investments."
She visited me regularly in the fall and the spring. As she met first one of my friends and then another, she was amazed and impressed by the "caliber" of people who played poker. I eventually had poker games in my home which she watched and enjoyed the camaraderie. The first live poker she ever witnessed was the Ladies event at the World Series in 1992. She was a genteel 78 year-old at the time. She was awed by the whole experience. She would later refer to it as a "carnival like atmosphere." By this time she had become friends with many of my poker friends. From 1992 until 2002, she never missed a World Series. All she ever knew about poker was that if I played a hand and they didn't push the pot to me, that was bad, but if they pushed the pot to me that was good! She was my biggest fan and she was there, with tears of joy in her eyes, to put the bracelet on my arm when I won my first championship in 1996. She was as overwhelmed as I when we experienced the repeat thrill the following year. She not only became unashamed of what I was doing for a living, she was proud!
Mimi began a journey to leave this life in June of 2002. A few weeks later she lapsed into a coma from which no one thought she would return, but Mimi decided she had not quite fulfilled her earthly obligations. She opened her eyes after several days and asked if anybody had any chocolate pudding. By this time, all of our immediate family (a passel of folks) and many friends had gathered. Though frail and completely aware and totally unafraid of her impending transition from this earth to what lay ahead, she managed, from her deathbed, to pull together something of a farewell family reunion. It was sad of course, but also nostalgic and poignant. She took each of us one by one for a private audience in which she said a few words to us individually and then she held our hands and prayed silently. Each loved one entered her room and left within about a minute. When it was my turn, she said some private things to me, we hugged and she then held my hands and began to pray over me. I bowed my head and held back the tears. I waited ... and waited. Finally, after what seemed to be four times the amount of time most at spent at her bedside, she said, "Amen."
She rallied in July and celebrated her eighty-eighth birthday. A few days later, she was awake and aware for an hour and I asked her why she had prayed longer over me than anybody else. She replied, "You always were the most difficult one."
One of the last things Mimi said to me was, "Tell all my poker friends I wish them luck and I love them."