Never Play Cards with a Ghost or a Gorilla

Halloween is not really my thing, but I love to see the little ones dressed up in costumes. My friend Carrie has told me for years that she gets a lot of trick-or-treaters in her neighborhood. Since I now live only an hour and fifteen minutes away from her, I asked if I could help her pass out candy this year. I’m so glad I did! The kids were absolutely adorable, but they weren’t the only reason I had such a spooky good time this year.

Carrie prepared a delicious meal, and she invited her parents to join us for dinner and a game night. In her family, the game of choice is Sequence, a card game that requires luck, strategy, and teamwork. Carrie, her mom, and I were on one team, while her husband and father were on the other. To play Sequence fairly, you need the same number of players on each team. When there is an odd number of players, you deal an extra hand to the team with fewer players. The members of that team play their own hands and take turns playing the extra hand, which Carrie’s family calls “the blind hand.” Since it was Halloween, I suggested we call it the “ghost hand.” 

As I often do, I took it a step further. My mother passed in April of 2011. She loved to play card games and she loved Halloween. I half-jokingly asked the group if we could pretend the “ghost hand” was my mother joining us from the other side. To demonstrate her love for Halloween, I showed them a photo of my mom dressed as a gorilla from Halloween in 2009. That year, at age 79, my mother decided she wanted to be a female gorilla wearing earrings, lipstick, a pink tutu, and a red bra. She thought it would be fun to dress like that and hand out bananas to the men at her assisted living facility because no one would recognize her. How could I argue with that? When I asked if this female gorilla had a name, without missing a beat, my mother replied, “You can call me Bubbles.”

Most people talk about Christmas Miracles. My mother had a Halloween Miracle. We found all the elements to create that costume in just one shopping trip, and all for less than $30! I could not believe it! Her vision of Bubbles came to life as you can see in the picture above. Everyone at the table had a good laugh at that photo and applauded my mom for her spunk and youthful spirit. That was all the incentive they needed to invite Bubbles to be the “ghost hand.”

We clearly didn’t think that one through. Over the next few hours, that “ghost hand” had all the best cards, including three wild cards in one deal! Every time Carrie’s dad or husband played from Bubbles’ hand, she always had the perfect card to block or make a sequence. In short, Bubbles kicked our butts! Of course she did! From where she is, she can see all of our cards and our strategies. It truly was amazing to watch what happened every time it was her turn. Perhaps the best line of the night was when Carrie’s husband told her father, “Don’t worry, Chuck. Let Bubbles guide you.” The table erupted in laughter with that one!

Regardless of your belief system, you can’t deny my mother’s presence was with us at that table on Halloween night, even if it was just in our hearts and minds. If her spirit was there, and I want to believe it was, she loved every minute of it! After losing 4 out of 5 games to Team Bubbles, Carrie’s mother leaned over to me and said, “John. I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t think we should invite your mother to play with us again…unless she’s on our team.” Even though we lost in a big way, it was still the most fun I’ve had on Halloween in years!  Thanks for joining us, Mom. The way you played, I can’t guarantee you will have a place at the table on game night again, but you will always have a special place in my heart.

Speaking of having a place at the table, as Thanksgiving approaches, many of us may be questioning where exactly we belong. We may have graduated from the kid’s table but still feel not part of the family in many ways. Family Constellations is a powerful tool that uncovers hidden family dynamics to help us sort out where we belong. My next online workshop happening Saturday, November 13 will be “An Exploration on Belonging with Family Constellations.” If you have ever felt like an outsider or wondered where you fit in, this workshop is for you! Visit the Upcoming Workshops page on my website for more information and to purchase your ticket now. Space is limited to 15 participants, so best not to wait. 

This week, may you stay young at heart while finding your place at the table of life, but beware of who you invite to sit with you!

Communication is not limited to the small range of channels the world recognizes.

A Course in Miracles ~ M-25.2:2

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