They’re Here
March 5, 2008
April 2, 2008

Ida Lessons

We had a favorite family car game growing up. It was way more fun than license plate spotting (find as many different states as possible before a trip’s end) or sign alphabet (get from A to Z using letters from street or highway signs).

The Ida Game (which had no point, no way to win or lose) was simply goofy and made us laugh.

It was named after Great Aunt Ida, who loved car rides but never learned to drive. When she came to visit on Saturdays, she rode the bus from her brick bungalow downtown. My mother and, later, after he turned sixteen and got his license, my brother took her home in our giant green station wagon.

Great Aunt Ida, a tall, big-boned woman with a shock of white curls sat on the passenger side of the long bench-like seat in the front. The seat belts back then clicked across her lap only; there were no shoulder straps.

When the car turned right (the first turn off our street en route to her house), she tipped over. Not completely. Her body stopped at around a 30- or 45-degree angle (depending on how fast Mom or my brother took the turn). And she stayed there. She didn’t right herself. Not until the car turned left and the force pulled her back up. Sometimes it took two slow left turns to make up for one sharp right turn.

Needless to say, we kids found it hysterical to watch from the back seat. When she passed away at 88, we started playing the Ida Game. We’d carry on complete conversations at a lean until the next turn.

Great Aunt Ida also loved to play cards. She brought her own deck, new and slippery and printed with country scenes on the back. She also carried a bag of caramels in bright, shiny foil wrappings that twisted at each end. We’d chew on candies and play hearts, rummy, kings in the corner.

She always lost. It’s not that we were that skilled at avoiding points or collecting four of a kind. Great Aunt Ida was a lousy card player. On what would have been her 89th birthday, we created an award from an old hockey trophy of my brothers and called it the Ida Cup. Whoever lost a card game won the Cup.

What has this elderly aunt taught me about yoga? Enjoy it. It’s not about whether my arm is trembling or I need a chair for balance in a pose. It’s about loving what I do, even if I lean over and don’t get right back up.

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