Last weekend was something new for my wife and me. Yvonne’s aunt invited us several weeks ago to go horseback riding – we finally did. She also introduced us to Sandra Floyd. Sandra began a wonderful program in recent years that provides fun and excitement for kids who are physically handicapped. Sandra is amazing in more ways than one. She also teaches disadvantaged kids positive “life lessons” that many would never receive. With a huge bag of chess sets in tow Yvonne & I set off to find out more…
We met Sandra in the Talladega National Forest near the Alabama-Georgia border. Over the next couple of days she introduced us to many of her newly adopted kids ranging in age from 5 years all the way up to teenagers. Many of you know the record-setting tornadoes that pillaged this region only last week, but horseback riding had everyone’s attention. Fallen trees became an obstacle for us as we navigated through the winding and hilly trails. Mealtimes around the campfire allowed for storytelling and what else…chess!
We met Greg who was one of the older and wiser young men. He told us about his grandmother. It turns out that Greg’s grandmother was on top of the chess world and was a ranking worldchess competitor! It was no surprise to see Greg give Yvonne and me tough games.
Where do I start? Yvonne’s parents were in a car accident on their way to West Georgia which is about a 45 minute accident-free drive. Thankfully we were sitting down to Easter lunch only two hours later – all passengers accounted for along with a car load of delicious food. Everyone meets at Yvonne’s grandparent’s house for most holidays. Arriving late is one of the family traditions began by none other than Yvonne’s family. Yvonne and I have taken the #1 spot on the “will arrive late” list, so we normally arrive late in the 3rd quarter.
I’ll manage to weave a chess story in here. The excitement is just beginning…
I’m new around here – to the area and to the family. I think I’m doing OK. My new aunt does not think of me as a “nephew in-law”, nor does an estranged brother I’ve been lucky to see a couple of times. I told him last week he did a fantastic job power washing his grandparents deck. I thought it had been rebuilt from scratch.
I’m doing great as a matter of fact! Yvonne and I opened our swimming pool on Saturday to kick off the season. I’m turning 40 next month, so we invited everyone we saw on Easter – which was “everyone” to stop by. I didn’t mention the lack of patio furniture, but news travels fast 😉
My new aunt invited Yvonne and me to go camping this weekend with a large group of teenagers. I haven’t done this since I was one myself. These kids are supposed to fend for themselves. They’re not allowed to ask us for any camping supplies over the weekend. We’ll also be riding horses in the Talladega National Forest. I never really learned to ride horses well and have always been a little scared of horses from a young age. My first experience was at age 7 in the mountains at Circle K Ranch outside Durango, Colorado. I did go back the following year – for the trout fishing and tug-of-war on the river that ran through our campground.
Back to Easter weekend. We eventually made our way to my wife’s parents house to enjoy the rest of time we had. Her family lives near us throughout Atlanta and beyond. Traditions have been set down especially around the holidays. Traditions include a “friendly” game of family poker around a large table. If you consider a single lottery ticket I bought for my sister in 1992 when the lottery came to Texas, I could say that I’ve been lucky with games of chance – which chess is not.
Chess for the first time has given me the confidence to participate in the family fun. Aside from a “meeting of the minds” about everyday life, the game has also offered me one-on-one interaction with my father in-law – not an easy task with so much going on.
I wish I could say I let him triumph during our game. Anyone who knows me knows better…