TRAVEL BUG TALES: KIN BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB
As I’ve chatted about beaches, I’ve also mentioned Mrs. Lide. Mom and Mrs. Lide were besties. I get that, because I have a bestie. But having a bestie doesn’t short circuit the ability to have other very, very good friends. My mom taught me that and I am grateful. I feel sorry for people who are so wrapped up in one another there’s no room for the rest of the world – whether the other is a spouse, a best friend or a relative. When we moved to Texas, Mom lost her close daily contact with Mrs. Lide, but it didn’t cripple her. She just set about filling her life with other wonderful people. No one ever replaced Mrs. Lide in her heart, but the fun she shared made for a great life.
The Lakeside Connection
When we moved to Dallas, one of the first things Mom did was take us church shopping, but it was a short trip. We visited the Baptist Church closest to us, but it didn’t pass the Ruth test. Nothing wrong with it, beyond the fact that it wasn’t what Mom was looking for. The next Sunday we ventured a little further down Garland Road to Lakeside Baptist Church. Mom hitched her wagon to Lakeside and she was set for the rest of her life.
Back in those days, the Baptist Sunday Schools were divided up by age and marital status and there was no getting around it. Nowadays they call them Life Groups and the age/marital status rule is not so hard and fast. Mom landed in a group of ladies called the Grace Class. They did life together for decades. They prayed for one another when there were problems and sickness. A death brought out casseroles and potted plants. If one of my parents were in the hospital for an operation, the entire waiting room filled up with Lakesiders. I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved those people or how much they loved me.
As a side note, my dad was a Sunday School Rebel. The wives and the husbands of my parents’ classes would meet together for a general assembly each week, to sing a few hymns, make announcements and pray together. Then they’d divide up into several smaller, sexually-segregated groups to study the lesson in their quarterly. Dad’s biblical curiosity dug deeper than the quarterly, so when a Bible scholar started a survey class, open to both men and women, Dad defected. Mom didn’t approve. She called the Bible Survey Class members kooks and weirdos. To hear her tell it, you’d think Jesus Christ Himself had ordained the Baptist Adult Quarterly.
The 42 Group
By some sort of natural selection, several of the Lakeside couples started a group which played 42 together once a month. This started as a simple game of dominoes with a few snacks, but it didn’t stay that way. It quickly morphed into elaborate table decorations and a three-course meal before the dominoes came out.
My Dad, the Sunday School Rebel, didn’t approve of the ordeal which this simple monthly game of dominoes turned into. Probably none of the men did, but the women were in their glory. To them, the annual assignment of homes for the get-togethers was more important than the Paris Peace Talks. Popular assignments were February and October, because Valentines and Autumn Leaves were easy party themes. Ending up with December was a fate worse than death. Being the December hostess meant you had to decide which restaurant would win the honor of hosting the Christmas gala and you had to be sure your Christmas decor bested the previous year’s display.
There were unspoken, elaborate rules attached to the monthly game and as my parents aged the rules evolved. Choosing a replacement couple for someone who was unable to attend in a given month was a monumental task, carefully discussed during multiple phone conversations. The ladies also discussed how put upon they were by the necessity of finding another couple. Hadn’t they been having this game on the second Friday night of the month for a long time? How could the missing couple dare to put everyone through this ordeal?
Then there was the first couple to quit for medical reasons. I heard much discussion about whether that had been a decision of necessity or convenience. Another milestone was the first death. Should widows be allowed to continue and who would serve as partners? Every season of life brought its own challenges to the 42 Group and finally an end.
Most comical to me was the ride sharing. As these dear ones aged, some of them weren’t getting around so well. To complicate matters, while the group had started out in a close knit geographical area, over the years some of the couples moved. The result was a flurry of monthly phone calls about who was going to ride with whom – and more than a few discussions about why anyone would move out of East Dallas.
Memories of these dear ones bring me both laughter and tears. It seems impossible, but I couldn’t find a single shot of the 42 Group among Mom’s photos. There were plenty of her friends from that monthly domino game and I have so many memories, but no photos. So, you’ll have to use your imagination.
Come back next week and we’ll go to Padre Island with one of the 42 couples.