It’s in the blood.

(There’s a lot of iron in Guinness)

About once a month a group of us meet to play poker. It’s a friendly game, with offspring included if they’re available. The smallest number required to play is five and the most has been ten. Everyone puts in five euros and gets a stack of chips (playing chips not eating chips…)

(A cup of tea makes everything better)

Sometimes there’s nice food, sometimes there’s whatever’s in the kitchen. The food’s not important.  But the most consistent and important thing on poker night is the laughter. We laugh a lot… at anything. Could be we laugh at the cards we’ve been dealt. Could be we laugh at one person trying to pretend she has bad cards…… or someone else pretending he has good cards. Or it could be we laugh just knowing that we’re okay in this group, there’s nothing to do and there’s no way we have to be….. It’s just fun.

(Hang onto your money)

I went to a burial today. My aunt’s brother. I didn’t know the man but he’s my aunt’s second brother to be buried in the last two months so I went to see her. She lives in the same house as my Dad and my Granny used to live. As children my brother and I were taken there to visit our Granny and see all our cousins. Today I travelled roads I had traveled as a child and I felt like a six-year-old. When I got out of the car, there were my cousins again and we were laughing and joking like we did as children.

(Nice food today)

As well as tears, there’s always lots of laughter at funerals……  like the poker there’s nothing to do and no way you have to be. Just turn up and be… with others who know you’re okay. You are family… even if you are a bit weird and don’t quite fit in with the rest of them (oh, maybe that’s just me!).

(Passing on traditions)

At the graveyard it rained and there were hailstones (yes June in Ireland is full of surprises) but that’s ok because it’s good luck! So I was dripping wet as I left to walk to the car and almost bumped into a woman. She was saying to me, “I have to meet this woman”. I smiled, presuming she was talking about another woman, but she went on to say, “You’re Peter’s daughter, aren’t you, I had to come and tell you, Peter played poker in my house every week when he was young.” So I laughed, hugged and asked Elizabeth her name and thanked her for making my day.

Ok Dad, got the message – I’ll keep playing the poker!

Do something that makes you laugh today, Mairead.