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The Card Game

(by Aimee Lee Ball)

I have, in a box lined with acid-free archival paper, a Mother’s Day card that I gave to my mom when I was about nine months old. Apparently, she chose not to notice that the handwriting was my dad’s, preferring to believe that she had a genius daughter. It was the first of hundreds of cards and notes between us. We had no trouble talking to each other (quite the opposite), but the written word allowed us to be more formal, more eloquent, more contemplative, more sentimental, occasionally more mushy.

My mother put great stock in the written word. I have an apology that I wrote to her, repeating ten times: “I will never lose my pocketbook or key again.” I don’t know how old I was when this infraction occurred—the handwriting is childish, and I was still addressing her as “Mommy”—but I guess she thought that my contrition would be more heartfelt in written form than an easily tossed-off verbal apology. (She may have been right. I don’t think I ever lost my pocketbook again.)