The Cards We’re Dealt

Posted on November 4, 2014 under Storytelling with one comment


Long odds to get a hand like this



“Sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.”

Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke”

I began my university career in September of 1970. I had been a reasonably good student in high school and was looking forward to broadening my knowledge base.  I entered the front doors of Nicholson Hall and promptly went straight out the back doors and headed to the library.  Rather than go to the stacks, I meandered down the stairs into the basement where I met a group of serious looking academics.  However, books on the table were noticeable only by their absence.

In the middle of the table was a solitary deck of playing cards.

And so began an education into the world of cards; and nothing, including classes in Political Science or English, would stand in the way of a game of bridge or 45`s. This is where I got to meet some lifelong friends including Big Alex and Lou Brosha.

Lest you think that we spent our entire time at St. F. X. in the basement of the Angus L. MacDonald library, like the groundhog; we occasionally poked our heads out.   We attended a class or two but even then, cards took precedence.  Many of us had the same classes.  The rule was that someone had to go to class and take notes.  We devised a roster and everyone had to take a turn.

You will not be surprised to learn that some of our student loan money changed hand in this den of iniquity. For some reason, Sir Henry Newbolt`s poem, “He Fell among Thieves”, crosses my mind from time to time.

After several months I started to get the hang of bridge, and it became a game that I continued to play throughout my life.

As it turns out I was no Rhodes Scholar, unless you count my prowess playing street hockey. We all managed to graduate and went our separate ways.

Lou ended up marrying my sister and he spent the first part of his working career teaching school in Northern Alberta. Eventually they moved the family back to Nova Scotia and it was shortly after this that he received his diagnosis of MS.

Rarely are any of us dealt a flawless hand in life. A blissful existence unmarred by trouble or strife is as rare as a 29 hand in cribbage.  In case you`re wondering, the odds of getting a 29 are 1 in 216,580. I suspect that the odds of having a perfect life are much greater.

Lou did not rage at his unfortunate situation but continued to live life to the fullest. He continued to work until he couldn`t.  He drove to his beloved cottage in Bayfield on a regular basis, always fixing something.  He was very well-read and could carry on a conversation with anyone on any subject.  And he kept playing bridge.

We played once a week for years and I loved being his partner. His style could only be deemed “unconventional”. Sometimes his bids seemed erratic, bordering on absurd, but he had a very keen mind and more often than not he made his bid.

Just over a year ago, he skunked us all for the last time.

When Lou was dealt a lousy hand from the deck, he never complained. He played the cards he was given.  And his trump card was his wife, Eleanor.  “In sickness and in health …” she left nothing undone.  Lou’s legacy is his beautiful, remarkable family who are left to remember, with tears of sadness and laughter intermingled.

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