I sit here, listening to the tv, but not really watching it, while my family; husband, daughter, her partner and stepdaughter, all play a game. Sequence. It’s a good game, but I’m all gamed out and we’ve only been secluded for less than a week. What on earth will I do if we have-to do this for months?
I am not a socially adept person. I’m the type of person who likes my own time. I’m quite happy reading or writing. I will socialize and I will play cards from time to time, but I can only handle so much at a time. Trust me, I’ve done enough socializing which includes playing cards to last me a lifetime. And yet, here I am, once again being called out to the kitchen to play a game. My granddaughter has had enough (she’s young enough for this to be acceptable) and is going to practice singing now (Karaoke). So, I’m elected to go out and play with them.
I reluctantly put my laptop off my lap and place it with exaggerated slowness back onto my little table. With similar slow-paced walking, I make my way into the kitchen.
Our home is very large. It is more like a castle with various wings for family members. However, we’ve done them as individual apartments. We have 10,000 square feet on the second floor of a commercial building that we own. As you come up the main staircase, the landing makes a large area with a love seat against the wall. Immediately to the right of the stairs is an apartment that we originally made to be an en-suite for my in-laws to live in and it’s attached to our apartment by the laundry room, which crosses over top of the stairway. At the top but slightly to the left is an angled wall that holds double wide doors to our place. To the right is a hall that goes to one Apartment while a little zig to the right and then left, a hall goes straight down to an apartment on the left with another short hall that goes off to the right with another apartment. Therefore, our family night can be quite large as we are pretty much always together.
Our apartment is the largest of them all with 4 bedrooms, office, tv room (great room), huge kitchen, living room, 2 large bathrooms, laundry room and an area between the in-laws and our laundry room that I refer to as the basement or library/storage room. Because of this largeness, most times everyone gathers at our place. My table holds 10 comfortably. So, it serves well for family night games. We are quite often together and yet we stay apart a lot too. We need to be extra cautious because my 16-year-old granddaughter developed a lung condition in November that our hospitals haven’t been able to properly diagnose her condition. The closest thing that they can relate her condition to, is called Bronchiolitis Obliterans. She is home with oxygen. This virus could potentially kill her. So, together, we stay separated. We stay away from others. We take precautions with everything we do. Family game night (almost every night) is the way to keep everyone amused.
Mostly the 16-year-old, stays in her room or in her living room with the occasional visit to our place.
Therefore, our daughter, son-in-law, and 4 (5) grandchildren come and go all the time.
I made it out to the kitchen. Put my stuff down on the table and go into the preparation area, grab a mug out of the cupboard, go to the stove and pour myself a cup of tea. Tea is always on the stove at our place. A down east trait that I learned from my mother-in-law. As I’m about to sit at the table I get asked if there’s any munchies around that everyone can have. Seriously, they think that they must ask that when their father is in this house and he buys the groceries. Mr. Diabetic himself, who always, always has junk food. Candies, Cheezies and pop. I turn around and leave the table again to go grab the bag of cheezies. Finally, I sit down at the table to start our new game.
The game choice tonight is Sequence. I don’t mind the game. It is still played with cards, but it also has a more visual challenge along with the cards. So, it comes down to luck and skill.
There are 2 teams, my daughter and my husband form 1 team while my son-in-law and I form another team. The evening passes along nicely. Wins and losses on both sides, eventually my husband and daughter won the tie breaker.
Later in the evening, my youngest grandson came in to play a game with us which then enticed my granddaughter to play again. We tossed for jacks to see who was going to be partner with who.
This time around I was partnered with my daughter, while my son-in-law and husband formed the 2nd team and both kids formed the 3rd team. My grandson is 17 and my granddaughter 11. They made a formidable team and beat all the adults in the final round of games taking the lead. My granddaughter was ecstatic about winning and thinks her and her brother are the best. I must say that they do make a great team. Between them they were playing their cards in the same area or else eliminating our men off the board to block our lineage. She was so happy to know that she played a big part in the winning of the games. It was good to see the smile on her face. My grandson was happy too and liked teasing her and the rest of us.
1:30 a.m. and we are finally ending our night. My husband and I still get up to go to work, because we are a small business and have laid everyone else off, we go in everyday to see what customers might need (if anything) and to finish up little jobs and do our paperwork. It isn’t like a weekend night for us, like it is for everyone else in the family who can sleep in.
And the week continues, each day another day of the same thing. Isolation. Social distancing, long walks with family members and on your own. It’s a time to re-gather our self. Learn to enjoy the small things. Stop to smell the roses, as the saying goes. We are, as a community but individually re-learning how to ‘just be’. Each of us are learning the old social graces that our grandparents had. My husband and I are getting a taste of retirement or semi-retirement and learning what it is that we will do with ourselves when our actual retirement happens.
Every night is either game night or movie night. Every night is a late night. Slowly, we have been getting up later and later because we don’t have to be into work first thing in the morning, just as long as we go in for a bit to see what needs to be done. We are learning what it is like to be in retirement. A trial run, so to speak. I’m learning what I already knew; that my husband will never be ready for retirement. His hobby is real estate and singing. You can only sing so much, so that means he still needs to be involved with real estate. As for myself, I’ve wanted to be able to do photography, writing and reading. I can find lots to do with myself, by myself. My problem will be managing my time. I need the routine to get up and go to work. I need a schedule. I’m learning and understanding that will be my problem.
As for our grandchildren, they are learning what it was like when we were kids. Spending family time. Having family dinners – every night!! They are learning more than just getting along and good sportsmanship. They are learning to talk to each other, within their own house. Sure, they still text and it’s a great way to talk to their friends and stay in touch. They’ve also learned that their grandfather’s Karaoke machine is another good way to entertain and do things together. They’re learning that it doesn’t how good of a singer you are, whether or not you have a great voice or can even hold a tune, it’s the singing together and having fun that is the best part.
Game night is more than Game Night, it is family time, a great time to be together. It’s the time to re-unite with your family. It’s being together whether-or-not we are all in the same room, same apartment or just the same building. It’s knowing that they are there. It’s knowing that they are safe. It’s knowing that if we need to, we can reach out and talk to them in person - personally, not robotically or mechanically but in actual person.
Through this whole mess, this isolation known as the Pandemic, is teaching us to come together as a family, community, village and town. It’s re-teaching us social graces. Social skills. It’s teaching us to play again, as a family. Everyone has something to contribute to the family. Everyone has a special quality within the family. We are learning our strengths and our weaknesses and how to help each other through it.
As strange as it might seem, Social distancing, is in fact bringing us together, being social.
So, bring on Game night, bring on family time. Sing, watch tv/movies, play cards or games. Just being together is a gift that we’ve received from this tragic terrible time that is affecting the whole world at the same time. Slowing us all down and teaching us all the same thing at the same time.
More phone calls have happened, just to check on other family member. More quality Facebook time has been happening, again, just to check on each other and I mean really check up with each other – not just likes and smiley faces. So even though we’ve been distanced, we’ve been brought back together.
Spend this time enjoying your family. Really enjoy them. Stop, have family night, take walks together and really stop to smell the roses (and see the wonders of nature). Just breathe and enjoy.