You were so kind to send me a "congratulations message" when I achieved my Junior Master level in bridge last October. I met you at the tournament last October, and I told you that I would send you an email with my "bridge story." I guess that "life happened" with me (everything is good - just traveling a lot and playing bridge a lot!). But, here is my story. And, I’ll try to send you a picture - probably in a separate email.

I started playing party bridge in 1971. My husband was a brand new 2nd Lt in the Air Force, and about 8 of us started playing bridge because it was inexpensive entertainment! There was one couple with whom we played a LOT of bridge. Linda & I were teachers, and our husbands were missile launch officers in the Air Force. So, our husbands would pull an alert, and then they would have 3-4 days off before the next alert. So, we'd let them catch up on their sleep, and then we'd play bridge. Sometimes we would play bridge until 2-3 in the morning, and then Linda & I would have to go teach!

As the years and military assignments kept changing, bridge remained a constant for us. Then, in 1991 we just stopped playing bridge. I was the assistant director of bands at Papillion LaVista High School, and I was VERY busy. My husband was approaching retirement from the Air Force, and our lives just "re-focused," I guess. So, I played ZERO bridge from 1991 - 2021, and I’d never even heard of Duplicate Bridge!

In January 2015, we received devastating news. My husband was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. Because of some complications, he also had to have both legs amputated below the knee about three years after the cancer diagnosis… We were literally childhood sweethearts. We had been in each other's lives since the 7th grade of school… My husband lost his courageous battle on October 24, 2019.

Starting in 2010 and ending in 2019, I had been the primary caregiver for 3 family members - my sister, my mother, and finally my husband. So, when he died in 2019, I was kind of in a "fog" for awhile. I had been so busy taking care of my loved ones that I think I had lost track of how to take care of myself.

Then, in July of 2021, I had a life changing event. I had a heart attack. The artery that is known as the "widow maker" was 99% blocked in my heart. I knew something was REALLY wrong with me, and I got to the ER quickly. If I had delayed, I probably wouldn’t have survived…

So…you are probably wondering what all of this has to do with me now playing Duplicate Bridge! Well…when I was at cardiac rehab shortly after my heart attack, I ran into a bridge & fellow teaching friend whom I hadn’t seen in literally MANY years. She asked me if I was still playing bridge, and I told her I hadn’t played in over 30 years. She explained that she was now playing Duplicate, and thought that I’d really enjoy it, too. So, I started playing in two different non-sanctioned duplicate groups. And, I caught the "duplicate fever!"

I played in my first sanctioned game in March 2022. And, I got my first points (.49!!) on March 30, 2022! I received my Junior Master ranking in October 2022. At the end of 2022, I had 10.44 points, and I was THRILLED!

As of today (April 14, 2023), I have 19.98 points. So, I am going to become a Club Master soon! I have played in Omaha, Bellevue, and Winter Haven (Florida). I will be playing in my 2nd tournament this month (April 2023).

I have been blessed to sit across the bridge table from some REALLY good bridge players (many Life Masters), and they have taught me SO much. It was a challenge going from the party bridge mentality to duplicate, and these great and knowledgeable players have helped me with this transition. Needless to say, I still have myriads to learn. But, I’m SO enjoying the journey!

Playing Duplicate Bridge has literally "kept me going," and has blessed me in so many ways. I have met so many new friends, too! As I said earlier, I was kind of "lost" after my husband's death. And, then my heart attack further complicated my life. I have a VERY close knit family, and they thankfully all live within 20 minutes of me. And, I’m very busy doing many things with my two daughters, their husbands, and my five grandkids. But, I still had a BIG void in my life, and way too much "down time." So, sitting in a duplicate game a "few" times each week has been wonderful for my soul and my mind!

I saw a couple of bridge sayings when I was in Florida this winter. One was: "Keep calm and bid 7NT." The 2nd was: "Bridge is a noun. It's pretty much the greatest thing in the world. Exclusively reserved for the highly intelligent and impossibly good looking!" And, to those two great quotes, I simply say: "Amen and AMEN!"

Marilyn Godby