When I played indobet 88 in a home game prior to my unemployment, one of the regulars was Old Man. I’d only known him slightly over the last 25 years, having gone to school with his kids and had mutual family friends in common. He told us to call him Old Man when we started playing together, and he looked much older than he was. When I was told he was 66 years old I was shocked, because he’d looked 66 twenty-five years ago. When he started playing poker with us a few years ago, it was easy to see he’d spent a few hours at the tables in his time. He was fearless, and pounced on weakness, and always tried to get position on my brother and I during seating. When I last checked, he’d personally busted my brother in six consecutive games until this past weekend when BuccaneerMike finally managed to win wrestle one away from him during a game that went into the wee hours yet again.
I received a text from my brother today that he passed away in his sleep last night. In our small town, he was what was known as ‘good people’. Very involved in the community and children’s sports, even long after his own were grown. When I last saw him last summer, he was still full of energy and able to play with us all night long when he was winning. His eldest son played in the game as well, as badly as his father played well. Most of the other players were related to him by marriage or blood, and it always came down to them vs. us, BuccaneerMike and I, when we down to the final four. We always felt like our tendencies and tells were the topic of conversation over a couple of Thanksgiving dinners in their house. Remarkably, despite the ferocity of the competition and occasionally the level of the stakes, we all truly enjoyed each other’s company over the table.
I realized today how much I’ve missed spending that time with my friends over the last year, and how I’ll be losing chances every day until I get back in the game, literally and figuratively. Old Man lived a full life, and was still living it by spending time with family and friends, right up to the end. It’s an example I hope to take with me.