Hand and Foot is a beautiful game.

It’s beautifully convoluted.

Even to understand the rules, people have to sit together for hours. Then it takes hours to play the game.

We played more than 100 games, more than 400 hours.

I cherish every one.

During those hours, we listened to Patty Page sing about the Doggie in the Window and the Tennessee Waltz, a song about a girl who’s friend stole her loved one. You would always offer the same joke: “I sure am gonna miss my friend.”

During those hours, you’d tell little dirty jokes, just happy to have a new joke to tell, even if it was only new in your memory.

Even the last game we played together, you had a joke.

Even the last time I sat with you on your bed as you waited for help to use the restroom.

Those times were sad, but I have those other times, those 400 hours.

During those hours, you’d tell stories about your time in the Navy, your time serving the president, and your time in the U.S. Marshal service.

Each story was told with a wry smile and a in a matter of fact tone.

Each game was adorable. Your wife would talk, but you couldn’t hear her, so you’d ask her what she said, but she couldn’t hear you. Even though there were plenty of times you couldn’t hear each other, you always understood each other. You’d share knowing looks with each other. You’d offer each other sly, witty comments that were somehow endearing.

We played our last game together last week.

You needed help getting up and down. You were in obvious pain, but you wanted to play just one more time, and I love you for that just as I love you for the others before.

You played this beautiful game the same way you lived, with wit and determination.

However, the object of the game is to run out of cards, and days ago, you ran out of time with us.

I love that game.

I played it with my grandmother until the day she died.

I played it with my mother until the day she died.

Now I’ve played it with you until the day you died.

If I’m lucky, my wife and sons will play with me until the day I die.

There’s sadness. I’ll never hear you curse as you draw a completely useless card. I’ll never again hear another joke of any kind. I’ll never get to watch you and Granny playfully banter back and forth. I’ll never hear you answer the phone with a dry remark.

I’ll miss those things, but I’ll cherish them just the same as I cherished knowing you.

I only knew you for a short time compared to my wife, who you cared for so very much. That short time doesn’t diminish the fierceness with which our bond formed.

We watched football and talked about the games. We talked about the Navy. And we played a lot of cards.

I’ll miss you Pop Pop. We all will.

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