There is something you should know about my mother…for all of her sweetness, her cuteness, for all of her acts of kindness, there was a dark side to Heavy D….a ruthless side. She liked to win. And Chinese Checkers was her game. She always won at Chinese Checkers, her Machiavellian strategies never failing…and never letting me win, no matter how much my bruised little girl ego needed just once to beat her. She relished in her victories, wrapped in her old blue robe as we huddled by the hissing gas stove on winter nights in the old house on Westwood Lane. There was nothing I loved more than playing Chinese Checkers with my mother.
I watched each move she made so carefully, trying to develop my own winning strategy. She seemed to have a fool-proof method from the very first move, and even when I thought I’d finally beat her, she would smile and somehow hop over a ton of marbles to win. Every stinkin’ time. It was so much fun, as it wasn’t only a game, it was story time, too. She would weave tales of her childhood growing up in Hixson, Tennessee, stories of the Depression, stories of her close-knit and loving family. I hung onto her every word, her tales so vivid that I felt I was back in time with her. The wonderful stories eased the sting of losing to her on those cold nights.
She’d make her last winning move, giggle, and say, “One more game, Neese?” I would groan and laugh, “Yes, Ma’am…let’s do it!” More stories, more games, more laughter. I have no doubt she is the Chinese Checkers Queen of Heaven, taking every competitor down up there- even those in upper management. I can just see it, can hear her laughter…and it makes me smile.