Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Good times with pasta, pajamas and poker

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published noviembre 27, 2014  | Available In English

The poker game was getting serious. One player had a pile of winnings, while two others had lost everything. I waited anxiously for the dealer to shuffle the cards, and breathed a sigh of relief when I was dealt a pair of kings.

No, I wasn’t in a big casino rubbing elbows with card sharks and downing mixed drinks. Instead, these folks were quaffing chocolate wine, and the only winnings were toothpicks. The dealer was my aunt, and the players were my cousin, my sister and myself.

My sister had flown in from Kansas, and my cousin and aunt had driven up from Florida for a long weekend at our Georgia home. My husband—bless his heart—had graciously provided us with sumptuous suppers, while yours truly had filled in with other meals.

Usually it’s just my husband and myself at home so our ordinary routines are placid, even in some ways monastic. But with three extras in the house we got a taste of chaos, which in retrospect can be quite healthy now and again.

The bathroom was usually occupied whenever I wanted to put on make-up so I went without it for their entire stay. I couldn’t find my comb so had to resort to fluffing my hair out with my fingers.

My aunt asked me to wash some clothes for her, and I was so intent on making sure her tops came out in good shape that I forgot to put her pajamas in the dryer. No one realized this until late in the evening, and since she couldn’t navigate the dryer—and didn’t want to wake me up—she slept in her daughter’s shirt.

I also gleaned valuable insights about my own foibles. For example, when I drove the ladies around town, I had an inkling of what my husband’s experiences when I’m his passenger. I am prone, I admit, to giving him input even when he’s doing fine on his own, as in “Watch out for that truck” and “You’d better slow down here.”

Now the tables were turned, and I heard from my passengers, “Stop at the light” as we approached an intersection, “There’s a parking space!” when we arrived at the mall and “Merge right” as we drove home.

I loved awakening and hearing familiar voices first thing. My sister and aunt were sharing the guest room and had been awake for an hour one morning, ensconced in their respective beds and talking. I peeked in to tell them coffee would soon be ready, just in time to hear them delving into the weighty topic of celibacy in the Church.

My aunt, however, took a break from the somewhat heated discussion to laughingly fill me in on the pajamas incident—which I am pretty sure will go down in family history.

That evening, over baked Sicilian pasta and homemade wine, we talked about the things I remember discussing as a child over supper. Everyone chimed in with a surefire method for losing weight, and everyone vowed they’d soon get serious about exercise.

We also dipped deliciously into the past with my aunt telling the story about her older sister—my mother—attending a wedding in New York City and meeting another woman there who was wearing an identical dress.

“She called me at home and asked me to meet her at the subway station with a different outfit,” my aunt recalled. “I met her there, and she changed in the restroom and returned to the wedding.”

One afternoon my sister, my aunt and I strolled down to the creek. Along the way my sister identified numerous trees—“Japanese maples”—and flowers –“begonias”—while I, not to be outdone, pointed out that the persistent whining noise was a warning signal from a squirrel.

My sister and I lost our mother decades ago, so visits with our aunt are a big treat for us. On this walk we took turns holding her hand, and for just a moment we were girls again.

Really, it wasn’t clear who was leading whom around the block. And maybe that’s the way it is with family. You savor the memories, the meals and a modicum of mayhem. And along the way you become a little child again, standing in the kingdom of heaven.

Lorraine Murray’s books are available at You may email her for signed copies at Artwork is by Jef Murray.