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While I was back in my hometown I spent a lot of time with my Nanna – we got into a daily routine of coffee and cards. I’d walk over to her place, occasionally with takeaway coffees or a sweet treat, but usually she’d provide some baked goodness from her ever-prepared freezer. We’d make small talk over instant coffee for a while – she was always a woman of few words – but it was all just delaying the inevitable. Because what she loved most of all about this routine was playing euchre. More specifically, beating me at euchre. I got one up on her a few times, but for the most part she dominated. And chat came easier once our hands were busy with the cards; trash talk, gossip, even jokes.

At one point I asked her if she’d ever had a bicycle, and she remembered the first time she’d ridden one. She grew up on a property and was completely at home on horses, but her first bike seemed an alien contraption and she was much less confident in its saddle. She managed to get the hang of it, riding around the yard, and was just starting to enjoy it when she realised she didn’t know how to stop…. so she rode into the wall of the house.

Last week I spoke to her on the phone – she in a St George hospital bed, me looking out the window at the Brooklyn moon. It was too tiring for her to talk for long, but she assured me she was feeling better, and asked if I’d found someone to play cards with in America. I promised I’d keep looking for a euchre partner, and we agreed to speak soon. Maybe it was the distance yawning impossible between us, but we managed to say out loud the words we’d just said silently for so long: I love you.

I’m gonna miss her a lot.

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