The Tuesday morning bridge game at the Sunny Days Retirement Community was about to begin.
“What? Oh! Two hearts.” Vernelle twirled the frosted blond curl at her temple, revealing the gray roots. “Sorry, girls. I was thinking about Trina. If anyone should have lived to a ripe old age, it’s her! It’s just not fair.”
Birdie, the former lawyer, shuffled her cards around, then clicked them shut. “Since when is life fair? One spade. Now we’ll have to find another alternate player to replace Trina. She was actually a decent bridge player.”
“That’s a little cold, Birdie. One diamond.” Lowering her chin, Lois gazed over the top of her glasses with the stare that had petrified generations of middle school students. “We all know you and Trina were good friends, so you don’t have to pretend with us.” Birdie stuck out her tongue at Lois, then gave her a sad half-smile.
“No fighting, ladies.” Ingrid’s husky voice was always calming. “Three hearts.”
The game began and conversation resumed..
“I still can’t believe it was only two months ago that she found out about the cancer,” Ingrid murmured.
“Neither can I,” said Vernelle. “And she was so brave about it. Every time I saw her, she was comforting me.”
Lois picked up the trick. “Trina had a very strong faith in God. She had no doubts about leaving this life to go on to the next.”
“Nice for her,” declared Birdie. “But pretty naïve if you ask me. I prefer to be realistic.”
Ingrid turned to Birdie. “But what if you’re wrong and Trina is right?”
Birdie shook her head and didn’t answer.
When the next hand was dealt, Vernelle gave a little groan. “I am truly grateful to be alive. But it’s difficult to stay hopeful and optimistic when you see your friends and family dying off, one by one, faster and faster the older we get. That’s even harder that losing our looks and our young bodies…”
“And our minds!” Birdie broke in. “It frustrates me no end that I can’t grasp a concept or solve a puzzle with the same quickness of mind I had fifteen years ago.”
Lois sighed. “What drives me bonkers is having to retrace my steps six times just to remember what I went after in the first place.” They all nodded in agreement.
“Or hiding something to keep it safe, and then not remembering where I put it!” Ingrid said with a sheepish grin.
“I don’t like getting old,” admitted Vernelle. “It’s hard. Wrinkles, gray hair, thin hair, hair in the wrong places, breasts that flop every which way at night, a tummy you can’t possibly exercise away! I miss being treated like a woman, instead of a useless old lady.”
“I know what you’re referring to,” said Lois. “You’re in a group of people, and you have the best idea of anyone there, but when you speak up, they listen respectfully, and then dismiss you and your idea completely.”
“Exactly!” Birdie yelled. They all turned to look at her. “Sorry. But I know that feeling well.”
Their attention returned to the game for a while. As Lois played her card, she reopened the subject. “It breaks my heart, sometimes to the point of real depression, to watch the people I care about pass away.”
“Hopeless” said Ingrid. “That’s how I feel sometimes, because, let’s face it, death lies ahead for each of us. Maybe we’ll have ten or twenty more years, maybe not. We could die peacefully, or in misery.”
“I find it grossly unjust that the best, most productive people can be cut down prematurely, while some of the least deserving seem to live happily to be a hundred!” Birdie stated emphatically.
“Oooooh, this is reminding me of something….What was it?” Vernelle tapped her forehead. “Oh! Yeah! In this book in the Bible, the guy said something like “Life is not fair. Everyone dies. So what’s the use of anything?”
“So?” Birdie prodded. “What is the answer?”
“He said…….” Vernelle hesitated. “He said: That we should rejoice. And that we should do good and enjoy the life we have.”
“That’s from Ecclesiastes,” Lois affirmed. “And he also said to remember your Creator, to honor Him, and to keep his commandments. Sounds simple enough on the surface.”
“But not so easy to implement, unless you have the power and strength of God behind you.” Ingrid stated.
Birdie said thoughtfully, “And maybe the support of a few good friends.”
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