Somewhere in Heaven, a seat at the Euchre table was just filled.
I’ll miss my Euchre partner, even though we haven’t played a hand in 20 years or more. Claire Ledford passed away Wednesday morning. She is in a better place now.
Claire and I had many a four-handed battle against Ernie, her husband, and Scott Staehling years ago. Add Ed Pagett, Tony Long, Claire’s mom Garnette and many others to the mix and a glorious game of six-handed Euchre wasn’t far away.
Occassionally, we might play Hearts or Spades but, in the end, we’d always go back to Euchre. Me and Claire vs. Ernie and Scott. We played fast. We played hard. It was fiery. There was some pride in beating those two, but we lost more than we won, truthfully. It was a time I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Oh, the games we had. The things (phrases) we learned.
For now, I’ll have to take solace in the fact that Claire, Garnette and Scottie are schooling someone who thinks they know how to play Euchre.
Claire and Ernie opened their home to anyone willing to cross their threshold. Many did. They were always better for it. They certainly were happier when they did.
Claire had a heart as big as the sky. She’d do whatever was necessary for friend or foe. She didn’t have many foes. Oh, some might not agree with her, but in the end she never met anyone should wouldn’t befriend.
Claire was loud. She loved to laugh. Those two things went hand in hand with her. Though that impish grin when she wanted to keep her amusement to herself and ones close to her was a telling smile.
Eric and Alan — sons to Claire and Ernie — are like the little brothers I never had. I was fortunate to watch — and babysit — them as they grew up. Off the top rope. Git to bed. Phrases we used often.
For now, though, thinking of the good times is difficult. It’s not supposed to be. A celebration of life should be happy. There are far more good memories. Seeing the joy on her face when son Alan was inducted in to the Clinton County Sports Hall of Fame in 2019 is something I’ll never forget.
RIP Claire .. and bid ‘em up boys, it’s gettin’ late.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports