Cribbage and the kingdom of heaven

| Bill Dodds | July 17, 2014 | 0 Comments


Recently, I was teaching my 9-year-old grandson how to play cribbage. I was dusting off a lot of mental cobwebs about the game. We were quite pleased with ourselves.

He moved one of his pegs on the board. His smile widened, as he had three points more than I did.

I don’t know if he realized that this wasn’t about cribbage. I had told him my dad taught me to play when I was in grade school. I told him that I hoped when he is an old man, maybe he’ll teach his grandchild.

He nodded the way young people do when an old person says something and they know they’re supposed to agree.

I had told him that his grandma and I had bought the cribbage board on our honeymoon, 40 years ago. He’s still young enough not to lift his eyebrows at the thought of a just-married couple spending time playing cards. I told him that love — marriage — is a multifaceted blessing.

As I dealt the next hand, I told him that we had bought the board with $5 my grandfather had given us for our wedding. In other words, he and I were keeping score on an item that came from his great-great-grandfather.

That brought a little nod from a youngster who has been told stories about “the old days.” I didn’t listen much, or don’t remember listening, when my grandparents told me about old stuff. I suppose that’s a common regret.

My paternal grandfather was a homesteader in South Dakota. My maternal grandmother lost her parents in the flu epidemic in 1918 when she was 22.

What I do remember about them is their faith. They went to weekday Mass, said daily prayers. Their home was filled with sacramentals, crucifixes, statues, pictures.

And now, a large part of what I want to do with the rest of my life is be the same kind of example. I want my grandchildren to see the joy that living one’s Catholicism can bring.

That, too, is a multifaceted blessing. Part of that blessing is knowing what life on earth is really about. Not understanding it, but believing it, being able to believe it because of the God-given gift of faith.

I see that in the widowhood support groups I’ve been going to for the past year. Some members talk of their dear spouses in heaven. Others think death is simply the end of life, the end of existence.

It isn’t that those who believe in a heaven are better than the others. It isn’t that believing eliminates the deep and overwhelming pain that widowhood brings. But that God-given gift helps make it possible to realize, and maybe even grudgingly accept, that we’re all just passing through.

In death, we’re heading home. We each leave at different times on a divine schedule that makes no sense to us. It’s one that hurts us in so many ways.

God made me to know, love and serve him in this world and be happy with him forever in the next.

Happiness is forever there. But, we have some temporary happiness here, too, amid sorrow, worry, stories and cribbage.

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Category: From Age to Age