My mind thought back to the events of yesterday, when Mom invited the entire family over to their place for what she termed as a "little surprise."
As a rule whenever my mother invites us all over and it isn't specifically for a holiday or family meal, there is always some secret agenda she is trying to put forward which usually results in me having to do some bizarre task or errand which is not to my liking. Yesterday however, was quite the opposite.
After my sister, her husband Doug and my nephew Mikey arrived their traditional 20 minutes late, Mom excitedly ushered the whole group of us into the kitchen.
I was secretly hoping deep down for a huge feast to be awaiting us all on the kitchen table however as I entered the room I noticed immediately the table was completely bare and there were no signs of food preparation having been undertaken in the past few hours.
We all turned inquisitively to my mother in hopes she would be finally reveal this 'so called surprise' to us. Finally Dad broke the silence.
"Come on woman, get on with it" he grumbled. "The football match is going to start in under ten minutes and I don't want to miss the pre-game show."
My Mother turned directly to Dad and in a chastising tone replied "Simon, if you would rather be sitting in front of that TV of yours instead of sharing in the surprise with the rest of your family, by all means please go. But don't start moaning about it later when you miss the news & perhaps the reward."
I could see by the look on Dad's face that his curiosity had definitely gotten the better of him and he had no intentions of leaving the room until he had heard everything. Finally Mom began her narrative.
"As you all know I have been both volunteering at the church bingo each month and also attending every week for a number of years. The proceeds all go to a number of very deserving charities and it gives me the opportunity to spend some time with some very old and dear friends each week."
I heard Dad make a big sigh, roll his eyes and finally pull out a kitchen chair to sit down in. He knew from experience that my mothers stories can at times be somewhat 'long-winded'. We all followed his lead, minus the dramatic sigh and eyeball rolling, of course.
"Now I know Simon and all you kids are not too keen on attending Bingo with me, which I have accepted." Mom continued. "But I honestly would like you all to take more of an active role in donating either some of your free time or money to some of these charities because the church can always do more and remember even a little bit goes a very long way. Reverend Green has an open invitation to anyone who wishes to help."
This time it was my turn to look around bored. I certainly hoped that Mom was not openly soliciting volunteers for anything. Between my work and everything else, I have very little time to be hanging around a bunch of old gossiping woman at some church that I rarely even go to.
"Anyway, remember that charity work can be its' own reward." Mom droned on. "But today, I was fortunate enough to be given a little extra. And I think it was perhaps a reward of sorts for all my work."
With that she reached into her apron and pulled out a huge wad of bills and began spreading them all over the kitchen table. They were all twenty dollar bills and when she was done, the table was completely covered.
"$5000.00 is what I won this afternoon at the charity bingo. It was in what they call the Bonanza." Mom advised ever so non-chalantly.
The four of us all jumped up & excitedly crowded around the table, trying to get a better view of this huge stash that Mom had just placed down before us.
I looked over at my Dad and he was 'licking his lips' like an old starving hound before indulging in a huge meal.
Little Mikey's eyes were as wide as saucers and the same effect seemed to have hit both Doug and my ever greedy sister.
"Of course I will share these winnings with all of you as well as give some back to the church." Mom advised us. "I just am not sure how much to give everyone as yet. Perhaps I will decide by next Sunday and let you all know then."
This of course meant one thing and one thing only. Mom was going to monitor all of our individual behaviours and then decide arbitrarily if we are 'worthy' of a cash gift. How condescending.
There is no way in the world a couple thousand dollars is going to cause me to change my attitude or suddenly modify my behaviour in life. No way. I am way too old and too set in my ways. Plus, of course, I do have some dignity. No, let the other 'mindless lackey's' in the room begin the 'boot licking competition', but she can count me out.
I was however, somewhat surprised at what I heard next.
"Well Dear" Dad responded warmly. "That sounds like a very good & well thought out plan. I support you 100%. In fact, perhaps the next time you need a ride down to the church I can come along and see what this Bingo is all about."
This was a huge 'about-face' for my Dad who had previously openly mocked the game of Bingo and anyone who had ever stepped inside a Bingo hall. In fact one of his favourite jokes has always been:
Q: How do you get 500 cows into a barn? A: Put up a bingo sign!
I actually had found that one quite funny which is very rare since my Dad's jokes are usually either extremely unfunny or so totally outdated I don't have a clue what he is even talking about.
Today however, there was no open disgust or derogatory comments for the game coming from his lips. He was all of a sudden very supportive and soft-spoken.
My greedy sister then took her turn at the 'brown-nose department' by advising Mom that she has spare time over the next few weeks to assist in some volunteer work. She too then gave praise to the 'Bingo Gods' and now wants to go play next time Mom goes. This is the same sister who has never gone to Bingo in her miserable life is now the biggest supporter of every charity event going. It was sickening in its insincerity.
And as for poor old Doug, well he is so whipped he goes to wherever he is told to go, so I am sure he will be there following behind like the lapdog he has become.
And then there is me. Mom's victory has touched me as well, you see. I use to think that Bingo was exclusively for the old, senile and elderly. Now I realize it is for the old, senile, elderly and clearly the damn greedy!
There is no way I am going to start attending some stupid Bingo game. I mean everything goes by the law of averages. Even a blind mouse can find the odd bit of cheese occasionally. In other words, my Mom has attended Bingo for like 30 plus years and this is really only her first big win.
No, I will not be caught dead in those bloody barns. No way, not me. I still have some pride left. I will stick with the sure things like lottery tickets, poker games and video lottery terminals. Those are the games for real men!
Finally, after ten minutes I was up at the cashier and being served.
"Did you want to send a card with this lovely big bouquet of flowers today, sir?" the cashier inquired as she rang in my purchase.
"Yes please" I responded. "Could you please put "To the most wonderful Mother in the world, from her loving son. And please make sure it gets delivered today."
As I said earlier, I am not totally blinded by the greed that the rest of my family is afflicted with. But having said that, I am also not a complete idiot either.